‘A pillar of the community’: Jackson Heights mourns loss of civic leader Joseph Ricevuto

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Jackson Heights community leader Joseph Ricevuto (l.) with Councilman Daniel Dromm during a “breakfast club” event. (Photo courtesy of Dromm’s office)

Jackson Heights is mourning the loss of community leader Joseph William Ricevuto. The Korean War U.S. Army veteran died of health complications on Jan. 26 at age 88.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Ricevuto moved to Jackson Heights in 1960 and established the William Hair Stylist barbershop on the corner of 37th Avenue and 86th Street. He worked there until retiring in 2002, and cut hair on a part-time basis thereafter.

Ricevuto was the longtime president and organizer of the Men and Women’s Club of Jackson Heights, a group that helped address the isolation older adults suffer by bringing them together regularly for a warm meal and conversation.

Ricevuto was also the president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group’s Garden Club. As president, he planted flowers year after year and more than 100 trees along 37th Avenue, beautifying the neighborhood’s commercial corridor.

Ricevuto was a member of numerous organizations, including Community Board 3 and the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic War Veterans and the Holy Name Society. He was a devout Roman Catholic and was a lay leader in the church and served as a trustee at St. Joan of Arc Church, his local parish in Jackson Heights.

Ricevuto regularly participated in the March of Dimes, raising thousands of dollars to support women’s and infant health. He loved to entertain children, which is why he marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade dressed as a clown for more than 30 years.

“Today I mourn the passing of Joe Ricevuto, a pillar of the Jackson Heights community,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “Everyone in the neighborhood knew Joe. As longtime president of the Men and Women’s Club of Jackson Heights, he brought our neighbor seniors together several times each month, giving them an opportunity to share a meal and socialize together. Joe dedicated years to beautifying 37th Avenue’s tree beds as president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group’s Garden club. His warmth and kindness touched so many lives over the years. He will be sorely missed.”

Ricevuto is survived by his wife of 13 years, Nancy Hernandez-Ricevuto; his children Joseph and Mariann; his stepdaughter Andrea; his grandchildren Crystal, Jill, Joseph, Nicole, Christina and Anthony; and his great-granddaughter Ella. Dromm added that Ricevuto will be remembered for his community service.

“Later this year, I will co-name a street in Jackson Heights to honor all that Joe has done for our neighborhood,” Dromm said. “My heart goes out to his surviving wife Nancy and to the entire Ricevuto family during this time of grieving.”