Alfred “Griff” Balestracci, 96, passed away on Thursday, June 1 at Bayshore Medical Center, Holmdel. He was born in Acqua Viva della Fonte, Bari, Italy, on Sept. 23, 1920, before relocating to the United States as a young child. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a combat medic in five battle campaigns: Normandy (including Utah Beach in the third wave), Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe for which he received a Bronze Service Medal. He also served in the Ordnance division at the end of his tour.
He met his wife of 71 years, Erina Gaiotti, in Malmedy, Belgium, where they married in 1945. After the war ended, she joined him in the U.S. in 1946. They settled and remained in New Jersey and have lived for many years in Fords, Holmdel and Neptune.
After the war, Fred became a master mechanic working for the AutoCar Co. but then started a stevedore business, Alert Service Inc. in 1955. Many years later, he became proprietor of Balestra Sales & Service, which he retired from at age 90. Fred was also a longtime parishioner of St. Catharine’s church in Holmdel, a member and chaplain of the Holmdel VFW and an active member of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. He was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather and will be dearly missed.
Alfred was predeceased by his parents, Giovanni Balestracci and Vita Maria Savino; his siblings, Mary Fortunato, Diego Visceglia and Dora Downs. Survivng are his wife, Erina Balestracci; his daughters, Diana Hanas of North Brunswick, Patricia DeTrolio and her husband Felix of Keyport, Annette Balestracci of Long Branch, Theresa Woerner and her husband Wayne of Keyport, and Rosanne Johnson and her husband Kevin of Perth Amboy; and his granddaughters, Gabrielle and Claudia Woerner. He is also survived by his sisters, Grace Luberti and Teresa Cioppettini of Florida and Annie Amodio of New York.
Holmdel Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. To share a favorite memory or messages of condolence, please visit Alfred’s tribute page at www.holmdelfuneralhome.com.
If you liked this story, you’ll love our newspaper. Click here to subscribe