OBITUARY: John Cavalieri, 89

John Cavalieri, 89, passed away peacefully at home in the arms of his wife, Mary, on Oct. 9, 2022.

Born in New York City to Salvatore and Venera Cavalieri, John was raised in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn where, as a child, he attended the Holy Trinity Elementary School. It was here, at the young age of 7, his exceptional creative talents started to emerge. John never forgot how the nuns at Holy Trinity encouraged him to focus on painting, sculpture, and art classes. The seeds of his creative genius were planted early.

John J. Cavalieri

Shortly after graduating from Bishop Laughlin Memorial High School in 1951, John joined the U.S. Army. After stints at Fort Dix in New Jersey and Fort Hood in Texas, he was discharged in 1956. Soon after the Army, John turned his attention to art, which would remain his personal and professional passion for the rest of his life. He started working at Ross Art while attending night classes at Pratt Institute studying advertising design.

In 1957, John married the love of his life, Mary Horvath. She not only became his spouse but also his partner in life for the next 65 years. Within a year of being married, John struck out on his own and rented a room in a shared apartment on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 51st in NYC, along with a few fellow starving artists. Some of these “roommates” would become among John’s closest lifelong friends.

John and Mary lived in Brooklyn and proceeded to have two children, Tory and Amy. In 1966, they moved to Marlboro, New Jersey, to raise their family.

After 14 years on 2nd Ave., in 1974 John founded a full-service advertising agency in New York City with his business partner, Ian Kleier. Cavalieri & Kleier grew steadily throughout the late ’70s and ’80s and produced award-winning work for MCA Home Video, IBM, Hertz, MGM, Coca-Cola, Loews Hotels, as well as Showtime. Much of this work won such prestigious awards, including Effie, Telly and One Show awards.

Cavalieri & Kleier took on a major advertising project in 1976 to promote the Democratic National Convention being held in New York City for the Bicentennial, which was pretty ironic to those who knew him later in life, as John wasn’t exactly known to embrace Democratic ideals. As John would say, “Young people are Republican. They just don’t know it yet.”

John and his family traveled around the world several times exploring the far corners of the globe. These trips included stops throughout Europe as well as Egypt, India, Singapore, and Hong Kong, to name a few. Of course, John’s favorite place to visit was Italy.

In the mid-1980s, Cavalieri & Kleier moved to larger space at One Madison Avenue, where they took over an entire floor of the Met Life Tower. It was around this time John and his family moved to Rumson, New Jersey. John and Mary took on a major project renovating a once-magnificent riverfront estate that was dilapidated from decades of neglect. They settled into this charming town, where John enjoyed being an usher at Holy Cross church. After nearly 20 years in Rumson, John and Mary moved to Atlantic Highlands in 2000.

John Cavalieri was a true renaissance man. He worked hard, avoided the easy way out, and had an insatiable appetite for information. He was also incredibly creative and could figure out almost anything – except how to arrive someplace on time.

If you ever doubted if John was smart or right about something, just ask him. Best to pull up a chair. This is going to take a while.

In the end and during his lifetime, nothing was more important to John Cavalieri than spending time with his family.

John is survived by his wife, Mary; their children, Tory Cavalieri of Manalapan, New Jersey and Amy Callahan of Marblehead. He is also survived by his sister, Mary Cirillo, and four grandchildren: Emily and John Callahan, and Gianni and Dana Cavalieri.

A Mass for John Cavalieri will be held on Friday, November 18 at 11:00 AM at Holy Cross Church, 30 Ward Ave, Rumson, NJ 07760.

Marblehead Current staff
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