June 03, 2013
There are times in our lives when we suddenly realize that
a short-term decision has become long-term, and will most likely
remain with us forever.
Just ask Anthony Perrotti ’49C.
“As with many young men of my generation, I began my time at St.
John’s after serving in the military during World War II,” he
recalled. “After I graduated I went to the University of Havana for
a summer session and then to NYU to be certified in Education. I
was hoping to teach Spanish in New York City but there was one
problem. Three million veterans were finishing their education at
the same time and I had to look elsewhere, because I wasn’t able to
get a job teaching. I got a federal job with the Social Security Administration and
decided to take it for a few months until something better came
along. That was 63 years ago. I’m still with Social Security
Perrotti is currently District Manager of a large Social Security
office in downtown Brooklyn, close to the area where he was born.
Throughout his career he has enjoyed dealing with the public in
face-to-face situations, knowing that he was able to make a lasting
difference in thousands of lives. He never lost sight of the fact
that, regardless of the nature of their problems, they loomed large
for the individuals seeking his help, and this caring alumnus went
out of his way to help them.
“I can’t think of a job that touched the lives of so many people
more than mine,” he said. “I took Jack Dempsey’s application for
Medicare and helped many other famous people along the way. But I
have to say that it never mattered to me whether the person asking
for help was famous or not. Everyone got the same treatment from
me, because as far as I’m concerned everyone in this world deserves
to be treated with respect and compassion. That’s one of the things
I learned at St. John’s, and it’s stayed with me all these
Although he graduated from St. John’s more than six decades ago,
his love for the University remains strong. He has wonderful
memories of his student days on Lewis
Avenue, and of the Vincentian priests whose influence extended
well beyond the classroom.
“I’ll never forget Lewis Avenue,” he reminisced. “The Vincentian
Fathers did a tremendous job for us. Remember, I started there in
the mid-1940s, and back then I think that at least 80% of our
faculty were priests. They were all great, but Fr. Cornelius Ryan
was extra special. Whenever any of us wanted some advice or
guidance, we could go up to him and he would always be there for
us. I really think that I picked up those qualities from Fr. Ryan,
and they’ve never left me.”
In September, 2012 Perrotti was honored with the St. John’s Lewis
Avenue Alumni Legacy Award at the 55th Annual Lewis Avenue Reunion.
The award is presented to those outstanding Lewis Avenue alumni who
have distinguished themselves personally and professionally after
graduation, particularly in ways that reflect the Vincentian
commitment of reaching out to those in need.
He is especially gratified that he was selected to receive the
award by a group of his Lewis Avenue peers.
“I’m very honored that my fellow alumni have chosen to recognize me
in this fashion,” he acknowledged. “But to be honest, I really
believe that most of that award should go to St. John’s and to the
Vincentians who taught me. They’re the ones who made me who I am
today, and who gave me both the resources and inspiration to do
what I’ve been doing for the past 63 years. What I learned at St.
John’s and the values that I absorbed there strengthened me to face
life in general. The University offered me good guidance all the
way through my whole life, and St. John’s will always be important