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Marshall M Toppo
October 12, 1933 ~ August 1, 2023 (age 89) 89 Years Old
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Marshall M. Toppo, a longtime Port Chester resident, died Aug. 1, 2023. He was 89. Born Oct. 12, 1933, in New York City to the late Emilia and Renato Toppo, he grew upon Manhattan’s East Side. His maternal grandfather, Marziale Sisca, for decades published La Follia di New York, the city’s first Italian language newspaper. A well- known patron of the arts, Sisca also published caricatures drawn over the course of nearly two decades by the great operatic tenor Enrico Caruso, a longtime friend. Toppo’s father was a studio portrait photographer who produced images of George Gershwin, Arturo Toscanini, Buster Keaton and Lily Pons, among others. Toppo attended New York’s Stuyvesant High School through his sophomore year, but the following year his family moved to Harrison, N.Y. He graduated from Harrison High School in 1951. Accompanying his senior yearbook photo was the slogan, “Friendly and smart and neat as a pin, Make these your standards and Marshall’s in.” Classmates voted him “Most Likely to Succeed.” He attended Iona College, majoring in history, graduating in 1955. He served in the U.S. Army’s Transportation Corps, stationed in West Germany as part of the American post- World War II occupation. He later earned master’s degrees at Bridgeport and Fairfield universities. In 1960, he married Silvia Morgoglione. The family moved to Port Chester in 1966. Toppo initially worked for the state Department of Labor, but spent nearly his entire career with the County of Westchester, rising to assistant commissioner of the county’s Department of Social Services. In that position, he sought ways to help struggling workers find employment in an era when political sentiment in the U.S. was turning against public assistance, and “welfare queens” were widely derided. In the mid-1980s, his department scoured county welfare rolls to find potential employees for the Mount Vernon-based manufacturer Lillian Vernon, which promised to train them for long-term jobs. The company ultimately hired hundreds and the program served as a model for other Westchester companies.
In a 1986 newspaper feature on his work, he told The New York Times, "Contrary to what you hear, people don't like welfare. They'd rather be working. But there are problems. Some are able but are illiterate; others don't know how to go about getting a job. They don't read want ads or attend job fairs. Many don't have work records. By helping them find work and get training, we hope to break the welfare cycle for as many welfare clients as we can."
Toppo retired in 1988 and for decades divided his time between Port Chester, Wilmington, Vt., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was a devoted father and grandfather, and enjoyed playing the Times crossword puzzle while listening to music, especially opera.
He is survived by Silvia, his loving wife of 63 years, as well as his brother, Ugo Toppo, his wife Linda Toppo; three sons: Marshall Jr., Greg, and Michael; their spouses: Susan Toppo, Julie Neidorf, Camille Toppo; five granddaughters: Ava Toppo, Mairin Toppo, Clara Toppo, Sophia Toppo, Emily Draper, and her husband William Draper; and one great-grandson, Sage Toppo-Williams.
Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023 at Craft Memorial Home, Inc., Port Chester, NY. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society.