Education & Military Service
Dominick attended Public Schools #14 and #15, Boys High School, Brooklyn, New York.
He enlisted January 1943 in the United States Army. Served in the European Theatre of Operations with 27th Division of Combat in: Normandy, France (Omaha Beach), Cherbourg, LeHarve, Paris, Reims. 71st Division in: Luxenburg, Belgium, Antwerp, Bonn, Cologne, Berlin, Kassel, Elbe River. Honorable discharge.
ENHANCING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN
Della Rocca grew up participating in his family restaurant business originated by his grandmother, Anna Savino, in the late 1800s. After returning home from World War I, Dominick’s father Pietro Della Rocca and mother Rachella moved the business and opened Pete’s Restaurant on Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
On returning home from World War II, Dominick and his brother Alphonse took over the family business and Mom and Dad retired. Pete’s Restaurant soon became a distinguished landmark for excellence in Italian Cuisine.
In 1970 Dominick and Alphonse opened Della Rocca’s Restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with facilities for catering as well as dining. Dominick’s son, Peter Della Rocca, is now the sole fourth generation Della Rocca chef and baker to carry on the family legacy into a third Century and the new Millennium; Peter’s Cuisine (Della Rocca’s) Parmesan Pete’s in Naples, Florida, Community Mayor of Naples, Florida.
- Founder of the Buck Wingo Athletic League in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, to curb juvenile delinquency and assist in eliminating narcotics addiction.
- Founder of The Fort Greene Civic Center, which developed community civic consciousness and helped establish activities for neighborhood youth.
- Director of Athletics for Brooklyn and Queens Youth organization. Directed tournaments and established a city-wide sports program.
- Trustee of Camp Montebello for Blind Children.
- New York City Youth Board under Mayors Abe Beame and Ed Koch.
- National Conference of Christians and Jews
A native of the Navy Yard District of Brooklyn, Dominick Della Rocca began as a very young man to take an interest in organizing base ball and basket ball games for the neighborhood youth. It was at this time that he met and became friends with Buck Wingo, a one armed base ball player. Buck had his own Semi Pro team with other handicapped players. Della Rocca was the bat boy till he left for World War II. On returning home from the war, Della Rocca continued organizing the teams for the neighborhood youth with Buck Wingo and Johnny Crane. Crane was the coach for Cathedral College for 55 years, who later became a Community Mayor. Crain was also Chairman of the CYO of Kings and Queens Counties.
After Buck passed away, Della Rocca founded the Buck Wingo Athletic League, and then went on to create the Fort Greene Civic Center. He joined numerous organizations including the Locality Mayors, and continued creating new activities for the neighborhood youth.
Subsequently, Della Rocca met a blind woman named Julia Goehegan. Julia and a group of blind women produced Broadway plays. They called themselves “The Blind Players Club.” Della Rocca and Julia became life long friends. Their friendship began by giving Christmas parties in July at St. Lucy’s Church for the Blind.
Julia owned property in Suffern, New York. Consequently, It didn’t take long for this dynamic duo to create a Summer Camp for Blind children called “Camp Montebello.” Over a period of a few years, Della Rocca and friends built sleeping quarters and then the pool. Julia and her club would direct plays for the blind children to participate in. Camp Montebello provided fun in the sun for Blind children for over 30 years under Julia’s direction.
The Vibrant Energy of Community Mayors
With his vibrant energy, Della Rocca had the ability to attract people like a magnet, and turn what otherwise might be a chore or drudgery into a party. He would get all his friends involved. It didn’t matter what it was he was soliciting one’s services for, because everyone knew it would always turn into a party. Before they knew it, they were having fun blowing up balloons, dressing up as Santa, getting local businessmen to donate free goodies, or helping some troubled youth with his or her problems.
At Christmas time Della Rocca would organize a parade around the neighborhood with Santa as the main attraction, while all the children followed right behind, as in the story of the Pied Piper. They would then line up to receive toys from Santa outside of Della Rocca’s Restaurant. It became an annual event the neighborhood looked forward to.
Best Known as “The Chief”
Soon Della Rocca would become Executive Chief Mayor of the Locality Mayors, and the Locality Mayors would become the Community Mayors; Della Rocca would turn his concentration, and that of the Community Mayors, to the special children of the world, the handicapped children.
In 1991 the Community Mayors of New York State, Inc. became the Community Mayors of New York, New Jersey & Connecticut/Member of the International Council of Mayors.
Besides managing and operating numerous restaurants Della Rocca was Chairman & C.E.O. of Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Della Rocca was best known as “The Chief,” but most impressively Magistral Knight of Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Knighted by the Pope, it is the highest honor for Humanitarian accomplishments by the Roman Catholic Church.
Della Rocca’s spirited passion for life and the Community Mayors is one in the same, and this creation of his has left a profound mark on humanity. His spirit will live on in the hearts of millions of handicapped children and their volunteers. A true humanitarian.
In 1955, Della Rocca began to prepare a schedule of events which would enhance the lives of millions of Handicapped children throughout the years. Motivated, not by personal tragedy, but in pursuit of providing a little happiness in the lives of those less fortunate. The following is a list of events founded by the Executive Chief Mayor, Dominick Della Rocca, K.M.
1. OPERATION SANTA CLAUS
Since the early 1950s, Operation Santa Claus remains one of the largest events hosted by Community Mayors.
Held at Newark Aiport New Jersey from 1991 – 2001
Now hosted at JFK International Airport with 4,000 Children
2. DAY AT THE CIRCUS
The only opportunity for most of these children to see “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden.
3. WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION DAY
Held at Madison Square Garden from 1980 – 1993
4. NELLIE BLY AMUSEMENT PARK
5. THE METS AT SHEA STADIUM
6. THE BRONX ZOO
7. ASTROLAND AT CONEY ISLAND
8. THE PROSPECT PARK ZOO
9. QUEENS BOTANICAL GARDEN
10. THE NEW YORK AQUARIUM
11. BROOKLYN BOTANICAL GARDEN
FOUNDED BY DOMINICK DELLA ROCCA
Exchange Students Journey
Exchange students journey from Milan, Italy to Brooklyn New York
Part of the program is of course to compare techniques in special education. Chairman of Special Education in District 20, played host to the students and 18 adult chaperons in a unique Special Ed Program. The Italian group visited for a week. Then Special Ed students from our city schools and their chaperons disembarked for Milan. A “First” in an international exchange of children, parents, and professionals.
Summer Camp Montebello
Transportation for several hundred children to “Camp Montebello” for Blind Children. Room and board are provided for the summer vacation.
Recreation includes a swimming pool, camping, and playground activities. Educational activities include a current hit play on Broadway in which the blind children take the parts of the actors and actresses: Directed by Mrs. Julia Geohegan.
Today: Summer Camp Scholarship Fund
The Dominick Della Rocca Summer Camp Scholarship. This scholarship is for children with disabilities to go to the sleep-away summer camp of their choice.
Dominick Della Rocca Way
BAY RIDGE AVENUE AND SHORE ROAD, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
A Letter from Shelley Della Rocca, Chief Community Mayor
On behalf of my family and the Community Mayors, it is an honor to announce the Street Naming in honor of our father and the founder of the Community Mayors’ Special Events programs for the children that need us most in our city, Dominick Della Rocca. Located at Bay Ridge Avenue (69th street) and Shore Road, Brooklyn, New York on September 25, 2021. Now known as Dominick Della Rocca Way.
Dominick dedicated over 50 years serving the Special Needs Community. He did so much with so little. Dad taught us to be compassionate, kind, and to give back and the children taught us to be grateful and to count our blessings.
The Community Mayors for Children with Special Needs programs not only enhance the lives of children with special needs, but also enable young individuals an opportunity to engage with compassionate assistance and volunteer in their communities. We offer mainstream students opportunities to broaden their scope of awareness and to see and feel, firsthand, the plight of those that need us most. Those that cannot and will not compete in the adult world. And! We are still an all-volunteer organization going on 70 years!
- Installed in the Brooklyn Hall of Fame
- Magisterial Knight of Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letter in the Trinity Hall College and Seminary
- Invested as Knight Commander of the Sovereign Order of Cyprus
- Military Order of Purple Heart
- Trustee of Community Hospital, Kings Highway, Brooklyn.
- Trustee of Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc
- Member of Advisory Board, Guild for Exceptional Children
- Member of the Senate Committee on the Disabled (Senator John E. Flynn, Chairman)
- New York State Fire Chief Association
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Community Mayors and International Council of Mayors
- Grand Marshall of Brooklyn’s Ragamuffin Parade 1985
- The Police Honor Legion
- N.Y.S. Chiefs of Police
- Honorary Sheriff of Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
- Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
- Veterans of Foreign Wars
- Chairman Club
- Downtown Athletic Club
- American Legion
- New York Police Veterans Association
- Ft. Hamilton Officer’s Club
- Honorary Mayor of the City of New Orleans
- United Committee for the Handicapped Children
- Deputy Chief of N.Y. Fire Department
- National Jewish Welfare Board
- Touchdown Club of America
- Member of the Catholic Social Policy Coalition
- New York City Council
- Bronx Borough President, David Dinkens
- Brooklyn Borough President, Howard Golden
- Queens Borough President, Clair Schulman
- Staten Island Borough President, Ralph Lamberti
- Mayor of the City of New York, Abe Beame
- Mayor of the City of New York, Edward Koch
- Mayor of the City of New York, Vincent R. Impelleteri
- Mayor of the City of New York, Rudy Giuliani, “October 25, 1997, Dominick Della Rocca Day.”
- The All-American Award from the Pop Warner Football League
- Camp Montebello for Blind Children
- Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of NYC Police Department
- The Guild for Exceptional Children
- Columbian Association of the Transit Police
- Catholic Youth Organization
- The Navy Yard Boy’s Club
- Buck Wingo Athletic League
- The Boy Scouts of America
- Lieutenants Benevolent Association of the NYC Transit Police
- Fort Greene Civic Center
- The Coney Island Sports League
- Sergeant’s Benevolent Association
- Brooklyn Hospital
- Saint Thomas Settlement
- Willoughby House Settlement
- The Housing Police Benevolent Association
- Long Island Midget Football League
- Teddy Cantor Memorial Award
- Saint Lucy’s Guild for the Blind
- Old Time Locality Mayors
- March of Dimes
- Staten Island Chapter of NYABIC
- Brooklyn Development Center
- Brooklyn Chapter of New York Association of Brain injured Children
- Port Authority PBA
- Columbia Association Italian American Man of the Year 1978
- Brooklyn Center for Multiple Handicapped Children
- United Cerebral Palsy Center in Queens
- Correction Officers of NYS Humanitarian Award
- Detective Endowments Association of NYC Police Department
- Saint Francis De Sales School for the deaf
- United States Marine Corps
- Partners in Education Award of the NYC Board of Education presented by: Chancellor Frank Macchiarolla, Chancellor Nathan Quinones, Edward Sermier, Chief Administrator of Special Handicapped Children’s Education
- Pan American Airlines Clipper Award
- Sam Markowitz Man of the Year award 1986
- Recognition Award from the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation
- Knight of Anita Award
- Christopher Columbus Civic Association Star of Polaris
- Vince Lombardi Award from Mayor Joe Tomlin of the Pop Warner League
- Blind Players Club, Inc.
- W.W.F. World Wrestling Federation
- NYS Elks #2067 Green Wood Lake, NY
- State Police Conference of New York, Inc.
- Police Department of Rye, NY
- Port Authority Police Benevolent Association
- Brooklyn Lodge BPO Elks Lodge #22
- Port Authority Director of Safety Superintendent of Police New York, New Jersey
- Port Authority Police Columbia Association
- United States Customs Service of Kennedy Airport
- United Nations World Veterans Federations
- Yonkers P.B.A.
- Catholic Guardians Society
- Metropolitan Police Conference
- NYC Transit Authority
- City of New York Department of Ports and Trades
- The Emmet Kelly Award by Irving Feld, Madison Square Garden
- The Reliance Award for excellence in Education.
- The Volunteer Action Award
- Toys for Tots
- United States Marines
- Pop Warner Gold Football Award
- The Big Apple Award/New York Special Olympics
- Hon. Deputy Fire Chief/ New York City Fire Department
- American Legion Veterans of Foreign Wars
- United Nations for the Handicapped
- 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion
- Awarded honorary Lieutenant of the Cambridge Massachusetts Police Department by Chief of Police Anthony Padillo