May 28, 1924 - August 19, 2018
“Yet after brick and steel and stone are gone, and flesh and blood are dust, the dream lives on.” ~Anderson M. Scruggs Born Emilio Salvatore Morelli (“Emil”) on May 28, 1924 to John B. Morelli and Beatrice Raus at 82 North Park Street, East Orange, New Jersey. Died August 19, 2018 in Escondido, California. Emil’s parents nicknamed Emilio “Emo”. Emil Attended Bloomfield High School Bloomfield, New Jersey. Emil was a drummer in the marching band where the band practice field was adjacent to dairy cows. Emil said the cows would race across the field to see his high school marching band, and then follow along as though they were part of the contingent. Emil graduated from Bloomfield High School, on January 27, 1942 and immediately enlisted in the Army to serve in World War II. Emil said he’d joined the U.S. Army because that’s what he wrote in his yearbook he’d do after graduation and didn’t want to be a phony. Emil was assigned to the hastily erected Central Signal Corps Replacement Training Center at Camp Crowder, Missouri. “Replacements” were quickly trained and then deployed as replacements for those high-priority enemy targets of signal corps personnel killed in action. After training at Camp Crowder, Emil was sent to the South Pacific where he served in New Guinea and the Philippines for the duration of World War II. His decorations and citations listed Luzon, New Guinea Campaign, Atlantic and Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Philippine Liberation Ribbon. Emil told stories of his time in the South Pacific how he often had to drive through areas riddled with enemy snipers, often taking fire, in unarmed water trucks or jeeps. On March 4, 1944, Emil received the whimsical “Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Deep” certificate for navigating past the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere aboard the U.S.A.T. Sea Cat (United States Army Transport ship). The firing of large guns on that ship, in combination with the loud headphones Emil had to wear for transmitting and receiving Morse code and voice communications over the roar of weapons and equipment were contributing factors to his service-related hearing loss. Later in Emil’s military career having joined the Navy, his unit was ordered by loudspeaker to muster at 0600 for inspection wearing dress blues. Having not heard the complete announcement, Emil asked a prankster friend in his unit what the announcement said, his friend told Emil to “report at 0600 in dress whites”, and so he did! Emil said that such practical joking wasn’t uncommon given the camaraderie forged in wartime between service members that were there. Emil’s impaired hearing didn’t impede his love of music. His musical tastes were varied – from big bands, to the John Philip Sousa marches he’d played in high school, to country music. Nearly half of his music collection also contained guitar music from long-time family friend Tony Motolla from neighboring Kearny, New Jersey. After arriving in San Diego in 1971, Emil would frequently accompany his son Donald on trips to Apex Music and Albert’s music stores to look at pedal steel guitars – although he never bought one for himself. After the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945 and the formal surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, Emil was honorably discharged from the Army’s 58th Signal Battalion on February 3, 1946. On September 21, 1946, Emil Morelli married Priscilla Durocher at Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church in Silver Lake, New Jersey after Priscilla converted from Episcopalian to Catholicism. Together Emil and Priscilla would have five children. Linda, John (“Jacky”), Donald (“Donato”), Alena Bea, and Robert-Emil. On March 18, 1950, Emil reenlisted into the USNR and served uninterrupted in several specialties until his retirement in 1989. Initially, Emil’s naval occupations included communications related specialties, sonar operator and radioman aboard helicopters and airplanes. During the 1960s, Emil’s military specialty transitioned away from helicopters into ground-based occupations including the Navy’s Construction Battalion know as the Seabees. In 1965, Emil achieved the rate of Chief Petty Officer. When asked why he didn’t continue an escalation up the ranks to Command Master Chief, or pursue a commission as a Warrant Officer, Emil just said, “I don’t want to become one of them. I belong with enlisted guys that work for a living!” In addition to Emil’s military career, he also operated a successful construction company named North Jersey Homes and Pools BASED IN Landing New Jersey. Post-war, Emil engaged his immediate family in building vacation homes on the bay-side and breaker-side of Long Beach Island in Surf City, as well as a small convenience store also in Surf City. The breaker-side home in Surf City built with Emil’s sister Mary Onnembo and her husband Frank Onnembo is still owned and operated as a summer beach rental by Emil’s three nieces, Mary Lu, Darlene and Julie Onnembo (the surviving children of Mary and Frank). Emil raised his family living in the comfortable neighborhoods of Shore Hills Estates in Landing New Jersey. Emil’s reputation as an exemplary builder and community luminary provided a proud and safe lifestyle for his family. In 1967, Emil donated his building design and construction skills in cooperation with his childhood neighbor and architect, Donato Rizzalo (“Mr. Rizzalo” – who at the time was 102 years old) to see the construction of the Shore Hills Country Club building. Shortly thereafter, Emil was appointed the position of building inspector for Roxbury Township in Morris County, New Jersey. In the late 1960s, Emil’s family experienced an all-to-common marital separation and divorce. Emil’s family, and extended family, moved to San Diego, CA. Although they’d each had failed relationships after their divorce in 1972, both Emil and his first wife Priscilla, remained close and focused on their five children. Emil’s careers in San Diego included La Mesa, CA building inspector, Carpenter at Naval Station El Centro, CA, Planner and Estimator at 32nd Street Naval Base, Construction Representative (Inspector) with the Navy and The Army Corps of Engineers, Carpenter at the Marine Corps Supply Depot, Barstow, CA, Inspector at NAS Miramar. Emil retired from Civil Service in 1989 from Tobyhanna Army Depot while working at a Superfund toxic cleanup site in Pennsylvania. After retiring, Emil worked as a Senior Project Manager in his son’s construction companies Larson-DRM Construction Services, Tuscan Sun Construction and National Construction Services repairing Northridge earthquake damaged buildings with his son Robert-Emil. Emil also ran a successful partnership with his son Robert-Emil called REM Contractors. In addition to numerous homes Emil designed and built throughout North New Jersey before moving to California, Emil kept building while holding down his day jobs. Emil’s relentless drive to build houses during his full-time employment resulted in homes in the Silver Lake Retirement Community in Helendale, CA, numerous room additions, re-roofs and remodels for friends, and even a house he built in unincorporated Escondido at the age of 80 with his son Robert-Emil. After the sudden death of ex-wife Priscilla in 2003, at age 81, Emil conceived a custom landmark home with his son Donald to be dedicated to Priscilla. During construction, Emil worked alongside his sons Robert-Emil and Donald. Emil operated a D4 Caterpillar bulldozer, installed plumbing and electrical and built stairs during the construction of that five-level home bearing his first wife’s namesake “The Priscilla-Joan”. The Priscilla Joan stands tall on Reed Road in Escondido, CA. Priscilla’s sudden passing had a deep affect on Emil and his family. Emil often visited Priscilla’s final resting place while he could still drive, and then after he’d surrendered his driving privilege, Emil would still go to Priscilla’s gravesite regularly with his children, often with daughter Alena. Emil often said that Priscilla was both the best thing that he ever did and losing his marriage to her was the worst mistake he’d ever made. His wishes to have his cremains placed with Priscilla will be honored by his surviving children. Emil is survived by brother Amadeo (Mickey), daughters Linda and Alena, Sons Donald and Robert, ten nieces and nephews, five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. He joins in heaven parents John and Beatrice, Priscilla Joan mother to his children, Emil’s son John Edward (“Jacky”), his older brothers Maurice and Candido and his younger sister Mary Onnembo and her husband Frank Onnembo. Emil also joins his fraternal brothers with whom he served during wartime in the South Pacific.
“Yet after brick and steel and stone are gone, and flesh and blood are dust, the dream lives on.” ~Anderson M. Scruggs Born Emilio Salvatore Morelli (“Emil”) on May 28, 1924 to John B. Morelli and Beatrice Raus at 82... View Obituary & Service Information
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