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Harrison Town Clerk Joseph Acocella Dies

The man who inspired a town throughout his short life died today, he was 30.

Joseph Acocella Jr., one of Harrison's bravest and most inspirational people, died today just weeks after his 30th birthday.

Details surrounding his death were not immediately available, but Acocella had battled Lumbar Sacral Agenesis—a spinal condition—since birth. He also battled kidney and heart problems throughout his life.

Despite those overwhelming obstacles, Acocella dedicated his life to public service. He had served as Harrison's town clerk since 2007, the last of several political ventures during his life. He had announced his intent to run for re-election earlier this summer.

Always an inspiration to those who knew him, Acocella had both of his legs removed at the age of three and was confined to a wheelchair for most of his life. However, he never let the condition slow him down. 

Acocella attended Harrison schools, where he became involved in student government. Despite losing his mother to a heart condition when he was 11 and continuing health issues, Acocella was elected student body president during all four years of high school.

Acocella went on to Fordham University and was chosen to take part in a program studying U.S. government in Washington, DC. and was eventually chosen to serve as the school's ambassador.

Returning to Harrison following graduation in 2004, Acocella took a position with the records division of the Harrison Police Department. In 2005 Acocella was elected as the youngest member of the Harrison Board of Education. Two years later he was elected to his current position, becoming the youngest town clerk in the State of New York at the time.

He was in and out of the office over the last two years while battling ongoing health issues. He was present at the last few town board meetings, proposing a change in policy to the new town dog park less than a month ago.

We will have more details as information becomes available.

harmony August 09, 2011 at 12:09 AM
May his soul be at peace.
GC Frohlich August 09, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Rest in Peace in the loving arms of your mom .... and keep an eye on all of us 'cause we need some angels in our corner!!
Angela Radogna August 09, 2011 at 12:23 AM
Such a short and yet somehow full life R.I.P.
nak August 09, 2011 at 12:29 AM
truly was an inspiration RIP..
NAO August 09, 2011 at 12:30 AM
Joe, RIP You will be missed. Naomi
SANDRA August 09, 2011 at 12:31 AM
A ANGEL AND A SAINT HERE ON EARTH . WONDERFUL FRIEND AND WONDERFUL PERSON .. WILL BE SO DEEPLY MISSED BY ALL . R.I.P
Ericka Mosheshe August 09, 2011 at 12:53 AM
I am saddened to hear of the passing of this beautiful soul who has gone on to join the ancestors and angels. May God keep him and watch over his family.
Bill Persampieri August 09, 2011 at 01:18 AM
I had the pleasure to meet this fine young man during my 21 year employment with the Town/Village of Harrison DPW. He has a wonderful family,a strong will and determination. Never let his condition stop him from doing what he wanted to do. He accomplished so much in his young,short life. May he rest in pease in GODS kingdom. He was very LOVED by all that knew him and will be greatly missed. A terriable loss for all. REST IN PEASE JOE.
Freddie August 09, 2011 at 01:19 AM
My condolences to the Acocella family. Joey had a short but a full life. He should remain an inspiration to many.Rest in Peace.
The Truth Hurts August 09, 2011 at 01:19 AM
It's a sad day for the Town of Harrison, to loose such a beautiful soul. Rest in peace my friend. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers.
Elvis50 August 09, 2011 at 03:47 AM
My condolences to the Acocella family. Joe was a true friend to everyone and will be dearly missed. Rest in Peace Joe.
Carla Fisher August 09, 2011 at 10:46 AM
Joey was the most courageous and forward-thinking person in Harrison. This is a huge loss for our town. I extend my sincerest condolences to the Acocella family and to anyone he inspired along the way -- a number too big to count.
Pat Angarano August 09, 2011 at 11:21 AM
My condolences to the Acocella family. Joey is an inspiration to us all. Through everything in his life he never pondered on his disabilities he always moved in a positive direction. His love was his family, his friends and the Town of Harrison. There is an Eskimo saying “Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy” We should remember this when we look at the night sky and see the light of Joey’s love looking down on Harrison. Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow. Joey, perceive, understand, laugh and grow!
Tomc August 09, 2011 at 01:50 PM
It was an honor to know Joey. He was the truly most respectful young man I have ever met. Our thoughts & prayers are with him & the entire Acocella family.
10580 August 09, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Joey was a great guy and he will be missed dearly.
Nicole Sandomenico August 09, 2011 at 02:37 PM
As everyone said and knows---Joe was a true inspiration! Our heart + prayers go out to the Accocella Family. Joe will never be forgotten!
Joe Bilotto August 09, 2011 at 02:49 PM
I have never met anyone like Joey was. He was not just an inspiration but a true friend that would give you his all. I was one of the luckiest people in the world to have shared a part of his life. He always brings a smile to your face. I'm gonna miss our nightly phone calls and our time together. I know your Mom is holding you tight in her arms. Prayers to all of your great family. I see where you got your positive outlook on life. Thanks for being a part of my life. Hugs and a coke to you.
Tamara Lanza August 09, 2011 at 03:57 PM
We are deeply saddened by the loss of this extraordinary person and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Acocella family Tamara Lanza
Ada B Angarano August 09, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Joey lived a full life, even though it was much too short, but he lived it filled with love & compassion in everything he did and with every person who he met. Joey never allowed his severe disabilities to stop his education, his work career or his political involvement, Joey has already become a Legacy to this town and his good intentions for Harrison's future should not stop, but should continue in honor of his 'memory'! One of Joey's friends, Ada
Peter M Fellows August 09, 2011 at 05:25 PM
I only had the pleasure of meeting Joe once. It was in front of Walter's Hot Dogs. We got talking about the history of our respective towns and how great it would be for area Historical Societies to interact more. Joe insisted I call him anytime I thought he might be of help in the research I was doing. What an extraordinary person he was!
joanne August 09, 2011 at 06:18 PM
My deepest sympathy to the Acocella family, Joey was a great man with a strong determination to keep going. He will alway's be remembered as a wonderful asset to Harrison. God bless you Joe may you rest in peace .
Angela Raso August 10, 2011 at 04:19 AM
My deepest sympathy to the Acocello family Joey was a inspiration to all and a true hero in my eyes.
Bob Suhre August 10, 2011 at 01:58 PM
My condolences go out to the Acocella family and his extended family at the Harrison Town Hall on the loss of such a great person . Joey although you might not be with us physically you will always be with us in our minds and hearts .You where a terrific person who really put the interest of all the residents first you where an inspiration to many. May you always rest in peace and always look down on us to guide us thru your spirits. R.I.P. 8 / 8 / 11
June Hersh August 10, 2011 at 08:40 PM
I knew Joey throughout his school years as he and my daughter were friends. He was an inspiration and a young man who always had a smile and a kind word. I am hoping there will be a memorial fund in his memory that those of us who were touched by his grace can donate to. Wishing his family the peace of knowing that Joey made a difference and has left a lasting legacy June Hersh
Iliana woodford December 28, 2011 at 01:10 AM
He was strong up to the last minute.What an example to humanity.Rest in Peace.

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