John J. Spitalieri, 88, Camden County teacher

John J. Spitalieri
John J. Spitalieri
Posted: September 19, 2013

John J. Spitalieri, 88, of Atco, a public-school teacher and principal, died Monday, Sept. 16, of complications from cancer at the South Jersey home of his daughter.

Born in South Philadelphia, Mr. Spitalieri grew up near 12th Street and Snyder Avenue and graduated in 1943 from South Philadelphia High School, where he was a gymnast.

A member of a World War II Army infantry parachute unit, he served in France, Germany, and Austria, his daughter, Regina, said.

"He would tell stories," she said, not about combat but about "going from village to village . . . helping any refugees that were there."

After World War II, he earned a bachelor's degree in education at Syracuse University, where he was captain of the gymnastics team.

His first job was "as a teacher and principal for a small school in Tansboro," in Winslow Township, Camden County, "a pretty rural area at the time," where there were only 75 students in grades seven through 12, his daughter said.

Mr. Spitalieri became a teacher at what was then Edgewood Regional Junior High in Winslow and, while there, earned a master's degree at what is now Rowan University, focusing on learning disabilities.

He first became a consultant on that specialty to schools in lower Camden County and then was principal of the Annex, a regional program he developed for students with disabilities, she said. He retired in 1989.

During summers from 1956 to 1978, he was a counselor at Sherwood Day Camp in Turnersville and for the final eight years was its director, she said.

In retirement, he was an adjunct professor of special education at what is now Rowan from 1984 to 1995.

Mr. Spitalieri was a member of the group Atco Seniors from the 1990s until 2012 and, for a time, was its president.

Besides his daughter, Mr. Spitalieri is survived by son John R.; a brother; a sister; and nine grandchildren. His wife, Letitia, died in 2007, and son Salvatore died in 2012.

Viewings were set from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, and 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at the LeRoy P. Wooster Funeral Home, 441 White Horse Pike, Atco, before a Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. at Assumption Church, Christ the Redeemer Parish, 318 Carl Hasselhan Dr., Atco, with interment in Atco Cemetery.

Donations may be made to

Condolences may be offered to the family at

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 610-313-8134,, or follow on Twitter @WNaedele.


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