Home COVID-19 Richard Altomare: Resident + Business Owner Known as the ‘Heart of Hoboken’ Passes Away from COVID-19

Richard Altomare: Resident + Business Owner Known as the ‘Heart of Hoboken’ Passes Away from COVID-19

by Morgan Gertler
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It’s safe to say that everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — many people lost their jobs while others are working overtime and putting their health at risk on a daily basis. Families are separated in different areas of the house or by hundreds of miles. After nearly two months of social distancing and self-quarantining, our communities are starting to find safe ways to reopen and resume certain activities. But even with this light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t forget the people we lost over the last few weeks. Richard Altomare, known as Richy to his friends and family, was a lifelong Hoboken resident and business owner who unfortunately passed away from COVID-19 on May 6th. Get to know more about Richy and the legacy he left behind.

Loved by All

Hoboken is a small town with deep roots in community and family. Residents support each other and come to the rescue regularly for businesses, neighbors, and friends who feel like family. Richy was no exception — known as “the Mayor of the 800 Washington block,” he was said to know all the business owners, their clientele, and even frequent many businesses as a customer himself. He even befriended his own customers at his laundromat, Giant Wash Laundromat, located at 804 Washington St. He owned and operated it for over 25 years, continuing the family business which was started back in 1961. 

Craig Wallace Dale posted a moving contribution to Richy on his Instagram account, saying, “Richie Altomare, one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known. My first friend in Hoboken. Going to Yankee Stadium, a backyard barbecue, or watching Jeopardy while my clothes spun dry, Richy was fun and positive to be around…Richie will be missed by many. I loved him like a brother, as he would say, from another mother.”

The laundromat was known as a big gathering spot for locals — not to just do their laundry, but to visit with Richy. He was a die-hard Yankee fan who loved spending time with his family, playing trivia, and singing karaoke with his friends. 

See More: Beloved Hoboken Dog Groomer Loses 2 Employees During the Pandemic — Now the Community is Rallying Behind Her

{Richard with siblings Rosanna Lucignano, Anthony Altomare, and Marisa Picardo}

The owners of Mikie Squared told Hoboken Girl, “Not only was [Richy] one of our customers and befriended our entire staff, he was also our good friend for 30 plus years. Many people would bump into Richy walking down Washington St in his Yankees gear. His presence will be deeply missed.” 

Richy was 56 years old when he passed away from COVID-19 on May 6th.

{A memorial is set up outside of the Altomare residence}

Stories from His Family

Hoboken Girl had a chance to speak with Richy’s sister, Rosanna Lucignano, who described her brother as “everybody’s everything.” She said that they had a tradition of watching shows together, such as American Idol, and texting each other their thoughts on the contestants and who they thought would win. She said it’s not the same watching without him but knows he is still there with her watching from above. Rosanna told us how Richy took over their father’s business back in 1990 when he got sick and was no longer able to work. Richy stepped in and managed the laundromat every day from 8:00AM-9:00PM, getting to know all his customers and even their families.

One of his customers had a brother who was sick with cancer, so Richy picked up and dropped off his laundry personally, to take away any added stress from him and his family during an already difficult time. Rosanna said that mothers would sometimes have to avoid walking by the laundromat because their little ones would throw a fit if they didn’t get to go inside and see Richy and claim their lollipop or magnet — a little treat he was known to give out. Richy commonly sat and hung out with kids while their parents did laundry. As an uncle to four nephews, keeping kids happy and entertained came naturally to Richy.

richard altomare news

Customers even trusted him with their dogs, whether they were inside doing a load of laundry or when hitting up the bar next door. It’s really no wonder why he was dubbed the “Heart of Hoboken” — he possesses all the qualities that this community prides itself on.

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Roots in Hoboken

Richy was born and raised in Hoboken and graduated from Hoboken High School. He attended St. Peter’s College and graduated in 1984 with a B.S in Business. His parents were the late Antonio and Angela Altomare, and he is survived by his brother Anthony Altomare, and sisters Marisa Picardo and Rosanna Lucignano. He was a beloved uncle to his four nephews — Eric Altomare, Nicholas and Damian Lucignano, and Adam Picardo.

{Richy with his nephews Nicholas and Damian Lucignano and Adam Picardo}

{Richy with his nephew Eric Altomare}

Rosanna said that Richy was an anchor for their family and the outpouring of love, support, and stories has been truly amazing during this difficult time.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations in Richy’s name to St. Francis Church, Memorial Fund. Details on future celebrations of Richard’s life will be posted on www.lawtonturso.com as they become available.

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