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Historic Rivertowns History and News

Celebrating a Soldier, Senior and All-Around Amazing Guy

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April 6, 2021

By Kevin Brown–

Have you ever walked by Washington Irving School on Broadway in Tarrytown and noticed a pair of immense oak trees gracing the front lawn? One was planted by Anthony Pircio and his classmates in 1932. Pircio just turned 100 on March 5 and has been listed in the National Register of Historic Personages as a celebration for all he has accomplished in his life.

Pircio was born in Tarrytown on March 5, 1921 and graduated from Washington Irving High School in 1938. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and a doctorate in pharmacology from Fordham University.

He served in the Army Air Corps, which pre-dated the U.S. Air Force, as a commissioned officer during World War II. In 1943, he served as a weather officer in England and Northern France with the Mighty 8th Air Force where he was assigned to the 7th Photo Reconnaissance Group. His unit would fly over forward locations to assess the weather conditions and take reconnaissance photos of potential bombing targets.  Pircio was transported to the European Theater of Operations and back home again aboard the HMS Queen Mary. He was honorably discharged as a captain in 1946.

In 1946, he married Mary Smercak, whom he met at the Tarrytown library. They had three children: Nick, Mary Beth and Nancy. Tony and Mary remained together for 68 years until she died in 2014 and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on Halloween.

After the war, Pircio began his pharmacology career at what is now called Bristol Myers Squibb. He worked on the team that developed Excedrin and led the research team that developed the post-operative pain-relieving drug Stadol. He worked through 1983 when he retired from Bristol Laboratories.

He now lives in Manlius, NY where his 100th birthday was exuberantly celebrated with his family. The Honor Flight Syracuse arranged a caravan of the local first responders and VFW Members along with local politicians, neighbors, friends, and family members to salute his service and contributions to his country.  “I so appreciate the people who took part in the parade and ceremony. It was special for so many of my neighbors and friends to come share it with me,” he said.

In retirement, Pircio was a passionate fisherman. Until recently, he volunteered at Wheels on Meals, Hospice and the Francis House which helps those with terminal cancer.

The Pircio family connection lives on in Tarrytown as his nephew, Ed Smercak and his wife, Lind Porcelli, and two daughters, Katie and Chloe, have lived in town for decades.  Lots of young adults in Tarrytown still refer to him as Coach Ed as he spent years coaching soccer and football at Sleepy Hollow High.

To learn more about Anthony Pircio, he is the subject of a full chapter in Sean C. Kelly’s book Home Bases: Memories & Stories of U.S. Military Bases Around London. 

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