NYPD honors retired officer battling terminal cancer in bittersweet homecoming in Center Moriches

Joseph Stillitano was one of the hundreds of first responders to rush towards ground zero on 9/11.

Jon Dowding

Mar 16, 2024, 12:24 AM

Updated 37 days ago

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The NYPD honored a retired officer battling terminal cancer Friday evening by providing an ambulance home from the hospital where he was greeted by friends and family in Center Moriches.
Joseph Stillitano’s brothers and sisters in blue made sure to be there at his home to celebrate his fighting spirit and dedication to helping those around him.
It’s clear that Stillitano is a fighter. He and Nanette Terranova worked on the NYPD as patrol partners in South Jamaica before he transferred to another precinct.
"We have been family since 1982,” said Terranova. "Joe exemplified helping others without concern for his own safety and wellbeing."
People who know him best say Stillitano is known for his selfless and also his trademark sarcasm.
"An understated level of sarcasm that he just always had,” said his brother-in-law, Thomas Conticello.
Terranova said he also celebrates his Italian heritage.
"Very into his Italian music, his Italian cooking and eating! That's Joe,” she said.
Stillitano was working on 9/11 and was one of the hundreds of brave first responders to run to help at ground zero.
"He was there for the people of New York. He was there for his fellow officers. He was there for this country,” said Conticello.
Stillitano retired from the NYPD in 2002, but almost a decade later, he developed esophageal cancer. Then the cancer spread to his lungs. Now the cancer spread to other parts of his body.
"And now to know that the time is very near, I don't want to lose him,” said Terranova. “I don't want him to go because he made this world a better place."
To honor his lifelong commitment to service, an NYPD emergency service ambulance brought him home to be with family and his brothers and sisters in blue.
Those who love him most wanted to show 9/11 heroes like him will never be forgotten.
"These people are suffering greatly, and it seems as though they're almost forgotten, but that's why we're here today because we're going to make sure Joe is not forgotten when he comes home,” said Terranova.
Stillitano said when he was walking in that he never thought there would be so many cars out front welcoming him home, but no one will ever forget what he and so many others did on 9/11.


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