Morris Park community leader,
Danny Cestaro, remembered
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BRONX TIMES REPORTER,BTR JANUARY 3-9, 2020 3
BY KYLE VUILLE
Daniel ‘Danny’ Charles Cestaro, a
founder of the Morris Park Community
Association, passed away peacefully
in his Morris Park home on Tuesday,
December 17 alongside family at
the age of 89.
According to his daughter, Jaclyn
DeBellis, Cestaro, the son of Italian
immigrants, was born on Bogart Avenue
in Morris Park.
Cestaro attended P.S. 83 as a young
child and attended Christopher Columbus
He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force
during the Korean War and worked in
After the service, he joined his father
in the furniture repair business,
along with his brother, on Westchester
After his father’s death, he and his
brother moved the furniture store to
Morris Park Avenue, one block away
from P.S. 83, where it remained for approximately
60 years until its closing
“A lot of people would come into the
furniture store just to talk to him,” De-
Bellis said. “There was one crossing
guard from the corner who he always
welcomed to stay inside the store on
really cold or hot days.”
DeBellis said the family’s home
during her youth always had an open
door policy for guests whether it was
former Senator Jeff Klein or someone
who needed a place to stay.
“He helped so many people in some
many different ways,” DeBellis said.
“He even taught (one person) to read
and write so they could get a job.”
Cestaro was quite the multi-faceted
individual: he was an amateur boxer
that participated in the Golden Gloves
matches, and also a skilled clarinet
player and jazz enthusiast.
As crime escalated around Morris
Park in the early 70s, Cestaro stepped
up to the plate and founded the Morris
Park Association to keep the neighborhood
safe and sound in 1973.
Cestaro gathered a core of concerned
individuals that included Al
D’Angelo, Frank Agovino and the late
Dominic Castore and Rocco Miano,
with the help of local elected offi cials,
started a neighborhood civilian patrol
in the early morning hours to keep the
residents safe from crime.
According to D’Angelo and Agovino,
the association then had about
2,500 dues-paying members. In those
days membership cost $10 and $7 for
“He started something from nothing
and it proved to be one of the most
viable organizations in the city,” current
Morris Park Community Association
president D’Angelo said. “We believed
in his ways and he was a good
Current fi rst vice president Frank
Agovino said the 46-year-old organization
would not exist without Cestaro’s
“He was the information highway
back then,” Agovino said.
D’Angelo and Agovino refl ected
that the association’s beginning coincided
with the Son of Sam’s reign of
terror. The serial killer’s fi rst murder
occurred in nearby Pelham Bay.
Cestaro not only was the founder of
the Morris Park Association, but also
contributed to the start-ups of other
neighborhood associations such as
the Allerton Avenue Homeowners and
Tenants Association, Pelham Parkway
Community Association, Pelham
Bay Association and Zerega Community
According to his daughter, he was
also one of the original founders of the
Daniel Charles Cestaro stands with his beloved
clarinet. Cestaro was a man of many
talents and the founder of the Morris Park
Photo courtesy of Ricky Restiano Photography
Morris Park Columbus Day parade as
well as the home school association for
St. Francis Xavier.
He also served on the board of
trustees for Jacobi Hospital and
Westchester Square Hospital for more
than 30 years.
While Cestaro ran his furniture
store on weekends he also was employed
as a building inspector for the
city of New York. He retired from the
city job in 2000 at the age of 70.
“He had a vast knowledge about the
city and made an effort to join different
boards like the community board,
the hospital boards, the precinct council,
to make sure (the community) had
a say,” Agovino said. “That was important.”
Even with all his community involvement,
Jaclyn said her father always
had time for them and kept a
running tradition of the Sunday family
dinner, up to his last living moments.
Cestro is survived by his wife,
Linda, two daughters, Jaclyn and Melissa,
and four grandchildren.
Daniel Cestaro (fourth from right) stands with other members of the Morris Park Community
Association to celebrate the opening of a new headquarters in the late 70s. Cestaro was
the president at the time of the photo.