PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Labor Day, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers lost a dear friend, colleague and dedicated union activist, Donato "Dan" Ezzio. Mr. Ezzio was killed in a tragic accident after he suffered an apparent heart attack while driving out of a Rittenhouse Square parking garage on Sept. 3 after attending the Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Festival at Penn's Landing. Mr. Ezzio was 61 years old. Dan Ezzio was a member of the PFT's staff for 22 years. He worked most recently as a PFT Health and Welfare Fund coordinator and has served as a PFT building representative, staff representative and information officer. "Dan was one of the finest people I have ever known," said PFT president Jerry T. Jordan. "Dan was kind, thoughtful and proud -- proud of his Italian- American heritage and proud to be a teacher, a union member, a South Philadelphian, everyone's friend and a devoted son, brother and uncle to four, cherished nephews. "In his professional life, as in his personal life, Dan cared for other people, and it was a role he relished. He treated every person he encountered with dignity, compassion and respect. He quietly assisted everyone in need, never asking for recognition or thanks. He had a slightly irreverent side, too, and he loved to make people laugh with his keen wit and own brand of subtle humor. He was fiercely loyal to the people and causes about which he cared, and there were many issues that mattered to him greatly," Jordan said. Former PFT president Ted Kirsch added: "Dan Ezzio was simply the nicest person in the world. The word 'no' was not in his vocabulary. If you needed something and asked Dan, he was never turn you down. He was thoughtful and a true gentleman." Dan was described by his sister, Amelia Ezzio diValerio, as an old- fashion, family-oriented man. He was born and raised in South Philadelphia, where he graduated from Bishop Newman High School. He earned bachelor's degree in history and master's degrees "plus 60" in math education from Temple University. Mr. Ezzio was a math teacher at Stoddard Fleisher Junior High and Benjamin Franklin High School who loved working with children. "He was a committed union activist who dedicated his career to making sure that every working person had a decent salary and benefits, worked in a safe environment and was treated fairly and with dignity," Jordan said. "He walked picket lines to make this happen. He worked union phone banks to help elect people who supported working people, and he helped countless PFT members through times of professional and personal crisis. Helping people was not only Dan's job; it was his life and his passion." Mr. Ezzio also described as one of the most knowledgeable people in the union and carried with him more than 35 years of institutional memory in the School District of Philadelphia. Colleagues at the PFT and the District relied on him for information about the history and nuances of the PFT-District contract and school district practices and policies. He followed Philly politics with enthusiasm and knew every player, major and minor, in Philadelphia political history. "Dan's humanity and compassion were legendary and were recognized in the many awards he received," Kirsch added: the Italian-American Press Knight of Goodness Award, Outstanding Service Award -- Order of the Sons of Italy in America, Columbus Forum Presidents' Award, United Way/AFL-CIO Community Service Award, the Philadelphia Math-Science Collaborative Certificate of Appreciation and the United Negro College Fund Certificate of Appreciation. He was a PFT building representative, a PFT delegate to the AFT Pennsylvania and American Federation of Teachers' conventions, a delegate to the Philadelphia AFL-CIO and Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, a past president of the Columbus Forum, active with the United Way's Combined Campaign and Community Development Fund and the PFT's representative on the Tri-State Labor Day Committee. Mr. Ezzio loved music, theater, opera, coin collecting and his four nephews who he said "were continuing in their mothers' footsteps of raising me." He considered himself a work-in-progress, always growing, learning and teaching. "Dan's untimely death came on Labor Day -- which his colleagues at the PFT thought of as Dan's day because he had been so intimately involved for so many years in the planning and execution of the annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade. Labor Day celebrates average working people. That was Dan Ezzio, an unpretentious working guy from South Philadelphia. In our hearts, Labor Day will always be Dan's Day -- the day on which he helped us celebrate the dignity and worth of people everywhere," Jordan said. He is survived by his father Salvatore; three sisters, Nancy Hill, Marie Vaughan and Amelia DiValerio; and brother, Felix Ezzio; his nephews, Edward M. Hill, Jamie P. Vaughan, Jonathan J. Hill and Peter Donte Ezzio; his brothers- in-law, Edward Hill, James Vaughan and Russell DiValerio; and a sister-in-law, Tina Ezzio. He is preceded by his mother Helen, his sister Alice and a niece Amanda. There will be a viewing on Thursday, 7-9 p.m. at Pennsylvania Burial Company Inc., 1327-29 South Broad Street, South Philadelphia, 19147. A mass of Christian burial will be recited at 9:30 a.m., Friday, September 7, at St. Rita's Church, Broad and Ellsworth Streets, Philadelphia. Burial will follow at the Calvary Cemetery, Route 70, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The family request that donations in Dan's memory be made to the American Diabetes Association, 150 Monument Road, Suite 100, Bala Cynwyd, PA, 19004, or the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Scholarship Fund, 1816 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers represents 16,500 teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors, paraprofessionals, non-instructional support staff, secretaries, food service managers and technical and professional employees of the School District of Philadelphia.
SOURCE Philadelphia Federation of Teachers