John Greco loved his hometown.
It would be fair to say he wore Geneva on his sleeve, according to those who knew him.
He was born here, grew up here, was a star athlete at DeSales High School in the 1950s, served in the Marines, worked for the city and was in his 25th year as a City Council member when he died Thursday at age 81. No one has served longer on Council since the city adopted a charter form of government in 1964.
Greco was appointed to fill a vacancy as 6th Ward Councilor on Jan. 5, 1994. He ran for election to the seat in November 1994 and took office Jan. 1, 1995. He was elected to six more four-year terms, often without opposition.
A Democrat who represented his beloved 6th Ward, Greco was said by many to epitomize an “old school” ward representative, paying close attention to the nuts and bolts needs of his ward and the city. He often cast a suspicious eye, and an opposing vote, at new initiatives he felt didn’t further those goals.
Mayor Ron Alcock, a Republican, named Greco his deputy mayor.
“I considered John a close friend over the past 30 years I have known him. We had several golf matches over the years and I don’t think I was ever able to beat him,” Alcock said. “The past 11 years I have worked closely with him on City Council and various committees. His work was exemplary and he worked tirelessly for the residents of the 6th Ward as well as for all residents of the city.”
Alcock said Greco “set the bar pretty high” as a councilor.
REMEMBERING GRECO: Family, friends recall great public servant
John Joseph Greco, 81, passed away peacefully on Thurs. (Feb. 28, 2019) with his loving family by his side at Geneva General Hospital.
Family and friends may call from 3 to 7 p.m. Wed. (March 6) at the Palmisano-Mull Funeral Home LLC, 28 Genesee St. Geneva. The American Legion Post 396 will meet for prayers at 6:30 p.m. in the funeral home. The Sons of Italy will meet for prayers at 6:45 p.m. in the funeral home. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 12:30 p.m. Thurs. (March 7) In St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church, Geneva. Entombment will follow in St. Mary’s Mausoleum, with full military honors from the United States Marine Corps.
Contributions may be directed to Our Lady of Peace Parish, 130 Exchange St. Geneva, NY 14456.
John was born on December 27, 1937 in Geneva and was the son of the late Joseph and Pauline (Paculli) Greco. He was a lifelong resident of Geneva who served his country and city with dedication and honor. A 1956 graduate of DeSales High School, Greco served with distinction in the U.S. Marine Corps. from 1956-1959. He retired from UPS, where he was employed for 30 years. John was a member of Big Oak Golf Course, the American Legion Post 396, Order Sons of Italy Lodge 2397 and Our Lady of Peace Parish. John has served on the Geneva City Council, representing the 6th Ward, since 1994. He also served as Deputy Mayor for the majority of his tenure on Council.
As a City Councilor he helped facilitate the demolition of the Market Basket property, worked with HWS on the expansion of the Geneva Recreation Center and oversaw the introduction of several new businesses in the city including Guardian Glass, the Ramada Inn, Lyons Bank and the Hampton Inn. He also worked with residents to install several veterans monuments across the city, including Korean and Vietnam War monuments in Pulteney Park, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and a Blue Star Memorial at the lakefront. He was also instrumental in bringing a 9/11 monument to the lakefront and was the organizer of the annual commemoration ceremony. John was a big supporter of the Geneva Police and Fire Departments.
John received many awards and accolades throughout his life, starting with his years as a standout athlete at DeSales where he lettered in baseball, football, and basketball and served as captain for all three teams his senior year. He played on the school’s first league championship team in 1954. John had try-outs with both the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds after high school and played on the Camp Le June baseball team while in the Marines. He was inducted into the Geneva Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
John was presented with the President’s Medal from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2017 in recognition of his dedication to public service, his belief in the transformative power of a united community and his lifelong commitment to the economic and social vitality of Geneva. Upon being honored by the Geneva Area Branch of the NAACP and the NAACP Youth Council for his civic service and significant contribution to their mission, he also received a Legislative Proclamation from New York State for his service.
John was very active with Our Lady of Peace Parish, St. Francis-St. Stephen’s School, Geneva American Legion, and the Sons of Italy where he was a past president. He enjoyed golfing, working at Big Oak Golf Course and playing cards at the Legion. Most of all, he loved spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren. John could always be seen picking them up from school and attending their school events and dance recitals.
John has touched many lives in Geneva; perhaps he coached you in little league, you golfed with him at Big Oak, or were lucky enough to have had a piece of his fried dough at one of the many city festivals where he volunteered his time.
It was once said of John “he was not only a great athlete; he personified an exceptional blend of athletic skill and citizenship by setting the example for everyone whose life he touched.” He was a loyal friend to all who knew him and will be greatly missed by his friends and family.
He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 56 years, Jo Ann (Gillotti) Greco of Geneva; son, Jeff Greco of Geneva; daughter, Michele (Chet) O’Brien of Geneva; grandchildren Giovanna Greco, Hannah Greco, Paige O’Brien and Danielle O’Brien; brother-in-law, Nicholas (Dawn) Gillotti of Geneva; niece, Nicole (Jeff) Trickler of Geneva; nephew, Jason (Sheila) Gillotti of Geneva; great-nephews Nicholas and Cooper Trickler; uncles Anthony Greco of Geneva and Bob Arndt of Geneva; aunt, Margaret Greco of Rochester; several cousins, and many, many dear friends.
In addition to his parents, John was predeceased by his sister, Joanne Passalacqua; and in-laws Anthony “Chubby” and Lillian Gillotti.
Online condolences for the family may be expressed at www.palmfh.com.