MAHWAH, N.J. -- He loved good food and music, fine cigars, Martha's Vineyard and, particularly, his wife, Dejah Olsen.
But most of all, Mahwah EMS charter member and former Deputy Chief Gregory M. Antonetti loved his extended family -- the countless heavy-hearted emergency responders who mourn his passing at 57 years old.
A private cremation will be held Saturday after an 11 a.m. service at Van Emburgh-Sneider-Pernice Funeral Home in Ramsey for Antonetti, who died peacefully early Wednesday at Villa Marie Claire in Saddle River after being taken there "with love and dignity" by fellow EMS members the day before.
They and Antonetti's former co-workers at The Valley Hospital have planned a formal procession after the service that will pass his home and the Mahwah EMS North building on its way to the Mahwah EMS South building on Fardale Avenue for a post-funeral reception.
Mahwah police will divert traffic along the route.
"Since Greg had touched so many lives and had left such a large impact in an extended network of friends, co-workers and EMS families, we are expecting a large turnout of agencies," squad members wrote.
That's because Antonetti dedicated himself to helping others whenever he could.
Barely a month ago, Antonetti asked a newsman about a project close to his heart: helping to donate oxygen masks for pets.
"I'd like to set it up so that we can do it at a squad meeting. Get a bunch of pictures to publicize it," he wrote. "I was even thinking of asking one of our members to bring a dog down to the meeting so we can get a hands-on demonstration."
Others are working to make his dream come true.
Born on June 23, 1959, Antonetti was also the former captain of the Mahwah Ambulance and Rescue Squad Co #1, a CPR instructor and an instructor-aid at the Bergen County Law & Safety Institute in Mahwah.
"Greg was an amazing, loving and detail-oriented person who was always eager to help out and mentor our newest EMT's, and even taught some old dogs new tricks," members of the squad wrote.
Mahwah Mayor Bill LaForet ordered flags in town flown at half-staff in honor of Antonetti and his extended family."
Dejah Olsen, his wife of 19 years, said she and Antonetti's family considered it a great honor that left them "without words."
Antonetti "believed in being a good man and he was," said former colleague Valerie Schoen. "He lived with love and served people as an EMT professionally and as a volunteer. He was in love with and loved his wife."
Antonetti cheered Olsen on through an illness but rarely ever spoke about his own.
"He was very proud and he did not want to talk about being sick, or bring anyone down about talking about himself," said his sister, Denise Antonetti-Murrell. "I truly think he was hoping to beat this.
"I wish he had, too."
"I'm just a guy who happens to be very proud of the ambulance squad in the town that I live in," Antonetti once wrote.
Visitation is from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Van Emburgh-Sneider-Pernice, 109 Darlington Ave, Ramsey. A funeral Mass will be conducted there at 11 a.m. Saturday.
NOTE: Please, no flowers. The family has allergies. Donations may be made in memory of Gregory to Mahwah Emergency Medical Service, P.O. Box 551, Mahwah, NJ 07430.
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