Anthony “Sonny“ Orza died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, June 6th after a short illness. He was 87 years old.
Sonny was born on October 14, 1933 to Tony (“Maxie“) and Mary Orza in Manhattan, New York. He was raised in Yonkers and attended Saint Mary’s High School. He attended college courses for a short period of time yet, like his father and his grandfather before him, was drawn to and dove head first into the family business of making bread at the landmark Orza Bakery on New Main Street in Yonkers. Beginning over 75 years ago, as a young boy he would ride with his dad in what was known as “the bread truck” delivering fresh loaves of bread from their ovens to local families. Putting formal education aside and with the same devotion of his father and uncle as his anchor, his love and passion for creating authentic Italian artisanal bread and other specialties blossomed and became a driving force in his life after taking full ownership of Orza Bakery in the late 1970’s. He was known as both a perfectionist and somewhat of a connoisseur in his own craft. In 2001, he further shared that unwavering passion and opened The Bread Factory in New Rochelle, NY. He continued to serve his customers, both old and new, and the local community with that same fervor until his death.
In a highly competitive environment, Sonny Orza paid attention to the needs of all of his clients. They included the Yankee’s Clubhouse with the likes of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, supplying the sports fans and execs at Madison Square Garden, to members of the most exclusive Westchester Country Clubs, and steakhouses such as Benjamin’s and Bobby Vans to the smallest of sandwich shops and pizza places. He glowed with pride after supplying them with an extra dozen rolls they forgot to order the night before. Perhaps the most accurate sentiment and summation of his character and acumen was best captured in a text received by his daughter yesterday after learning of Sonny’s passing: “I always enjoyed talking with him and going on a sales call with him, watching him in action. He was a master at his understanding of what the customer was looking for, a rare skill….he was a fine man and there are no words that can fully explain his enormous impact on [the] industry.”
Sonny continually contributed to local and regional charities such as Boys and Girls Clubs, local churches and cultural organizations. The doors of his businesses were perpetually open to those in need. Some reading this may be aware of an incident late last year where outside his New Rochelle storefront his generosity might have gotten the best of him….he offered a few dollars to a man on the street looking for some financial help and was summarily robbed of his cash in broad daylight (Then 86 years old, Sonny would surely want all to recognize the sharp “South Yonkers Right Hook” he delivered and the fact that his daughter chased the man down and got his money back…it was on the local news!)
He is survived by his wife Annette Colarusso-Orza, his daughter Andrea Olivieri and son-in-law Anthony, and his loving grandchildren Amanda and Ashley Olivieri as well as his sons Anthony, Lucien and Joseph and daughters Lisa and Ellie. He was predeceased by his daughter Mary. Sonny was very clear in the latter part of his life regarding his experiences, his interactions and how he valued every friendship he’d ever made…he had touched many lives and many lives had indelibly touched his in ways that he may never have had the chance to accurately convey. If you knew him well, you loved him…with unfailing certainty he felt the same way about you.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Community Foundation of New Jersey to a memorial fund established in his name (The Sonny Orza Memorial Fund) to assist in the continuing and compassionate care of the elderly and infirmed. Please donate by visiting the link www.cfnj.org/SonnyOrza/, or by mailing your donation in the charity’s name to PO Box 338, Morristown, NJ 07963-0338.
Additionally, donations can be made to the Anthony "Sonny" Orza Scholarship Fund.
The curriculum will encompass Interpersonal Skills Training, Listening skills, Focus on others, Sincerity, etc.
Seniors will adopt a Junior, Junior adopt a Sophomore, etc.
Their teachers will guide the students by recognizing, nurturing and guiding their interpersonal skills towards developing long lasting friendships.
Beyond their iPhones and texting. Heads up, look into their eyes friendship building.
Sonny Orza exuded a warmth of love, friendship, concern, and integrity towards all those in his circle. He embraced the children and families of his friends, making them his family too. Their words of gratitude for his moral and sometimes financial support is overwhelming. He helped guide them in career choices, that have given them richer and fulfilled lives. Sonny’s efforts were so quiet and understated, as to go unnoticed until today.
The recipients of his ‘friendship’ are now coming forth by the number. Their collective cries of ‘thank you’, he really listened, he was a great guy, he had integrity, generous, a man’s man, a raconteur, a gentleman, he made me feel important, he gave great hugs, he had style and grace, told great jokes, propelled the formation of a permanent memorial to his grand sincere persona.
You’ll get receipts for your donations.
Donatations to the Sonny Orza Scholarship Fund can be mailed to:
St. Augustine Church
381 North Highland Avenue
Ossining, NY 10562