TNLL icon, Bob Jonap, passes away

Robert Jonap, a Throggs Neck legacy who helped to build the Throgs Neck Little League and inspire hundred of children, passed away on Wednesday, July 29. Photo by Robert Benimoff

Its not often that one person can make a significant impact in this world, but all those who met Robert Jonap will attest that he was one in a million.

This past weekend, residents of Throggs Neck mourned over the passing of Jonap, an iconic figure who touched many lives and inspired adults and children alike through his dedication to the community and the Throgs Neck Little League.

Son of Sydney and Carol Jonap, Bob was born in New York City on September 16, 1927. He married Loraine Grimaldi, and had two children, Jeffrey Jonap and Kathy Jonap Pascale, before he was divorced. Jonap spent much of his time with his grandchildren, Jennifer Jonap Ardisson, Alexander Jonap Pascale and Madison Jonap Pascale, son-in-law, Eddie Pascale, and girlfriend of over 25 years, Eileen Hickson.

“He was my inspiration and always will be; I am who I am because of my grandfather. He was my everything and really meant the world to me,” said Jennifer Jonap Ardisson.

Born a natural leader, Jonap had many accomplishments, always contributing to his community and the people he encountered.

Jonap served in the Navy during WW II. As Seaman First Class, Jonap received the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and a Victory Medal.

Following his Naval career Jonap briefly became a member of the New York State Police Department before joining the Fire Department of New York.

When not saving peoples lives as one of New York’s Bravest; Jonap was dedicating his time to the Throgs Neck Little League.

Joining the league in 1955, Jonap helped building the TNLL Empire from the ground up with his friend and baseball partner, Leo Vitti.

Together the pair managed to save the league from bankruptcy and, through creative fundraising efforts and volunteer work, built their vision of a first class ball field still in use today.

“Bob was a volunteer for the Throgs Neck Little League for nearly 55 years and, with Leo Vitti, essentially built this little league from a rock pile into a complex with two fields, lights, and a two-story building,” said Frank Eisele, secretary of TNLL. “I would say Bob was a mentor to everyone he came in contact with, always looking to help them in any way he could, regardless of the time or place.”

Jonap passed away on Wednesday, July 29 from lung cancer. The wake was held on Friday, July 31 at Schuyler Hill Funeral Home, with a mass at St. Frances de Chantal on Saturday, August 1.

“He really gave his life to the league, he loved it. The number of children he made an impact on and influenced is just something that’s not measureable,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “Bob had his own way, he was not a public person. He was forceful when it came to getting things for the league. Whenever I saw Bob Jonap at my door I knew the Throgs Neck Little League needed something, because he was always thinking of the league and of others.”

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