John Marano’s life has been all about re-inventing himself.
He’s been a police officer, firefighter, businessman and now chair of Community Board 10 covering Country Club, Pelham Bay and Throggs Neck.
And as far as he’s concerned, the community’s troubles are his, as a resident of Throggs Neck, living with wife Luz and kids John Christopher, Christian and Andrew.
“I don’t just look out for my block,” said Marano. “Whatever the community needs, I’m there.”
Marano, now 46, attended St. Frances de Chantal grammar school and later St. Raymond’s High School for boys, playing baseball.
And on days he wasn’t playing catcher, he was at Dom’s Bakery, parents Dominick and Lenore’s pastry shop where Tosca’s Restaurant now stands.
“We were very attached to the neighborhood,” said Marano, remembering his parents donating to local little league groups.
Marano said he learned leadership qualities from his folks, always taught to make decisions on his own.
But he had been indecisive about his career options. He thought Westchester Community College would answer it. It didn’t.
Back at the bakery once again, Marano’s dad had other plans for him – the NYPD.
“Once I left school,” recalled Marano, “Dad said ‘don’t think you’re staying at my house milking me.’”
Marano signed up to the force in 1987, later assigned to Harlem’s 23rd Precinct, and later assigned to the Narcotics Division, working housing projects in the 1990s when thugs would often throw cement buckets from rooftops or even fire at officers.
“We were driving and someone threw a liquor bottle from the projects,” said Marano. “It landed in the windshield, we thought we were getting shot at.”
But after 11 years on the force, Marano decided he wanted to try something else – the FDNY, where he was assigned to Engine 38/Ladder 51 in Eastchester.
Then came 9/11, with Marano spending three months at Ground Zero, sifting through the rubble for body parts.
“I cried,” Marano said. “But I’m a very strong-minded person.”
His toughness helped when he fractured his back while responding to a fatal fire in Pelham Bay in 2004, abruptly ending his firefighting career after over six years.
After recuperating, Marano opened Waterburys, a local Throggs Neck bar where he would hold teen nights for area youths.
The Friday events caught the attention of Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who recommended Marano join CB10.
He was eventually voted as CB10 chair, at the forefront of resolving community issues, all the while hoping his kids walk away with the same pride Marano’s dad instilled in him growing up.
“I want to teach my kids what my father taught me,” said Marano. “Don’t break under pressure.”
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383