NUTLEY, NJ - The newest inductees into Nutley’s Hall of Fame for 2017 were Leonardo Capalbo, Phil Cuzzi, Rena DeAngelo, David DiFrancesco, Thomas J. Evans, David Gilbert , Adam LaReau and the late Henry Bunner. The biennial ceremony was held at the Nutley Public Library on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017.

The Nutley Hall of Fame was first held in 2003. The honorees are selected by the Nutley Hall of Fame Committee based on their association with the town through birth, long-time residency of at least 10 years and/or an alumnus of Nutley High School. Inclusion is based on outstanding accomplishments beyond the township on a state, national or international level.

The NHS Culinary students under the direction of their teacher Tarik Huggins catered the affair with a selection of gourmet finger food and deserts.

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Henry Cuyler Bunner

Bunner, the 2017 posthumous inductee was born in Oswego, New York on Aug. 3, 1855, lived the last 10 years of his life in Nutley on Whitford Avenue, and died on May 11, 1896.

At age 23 Bunner was the editor-in-chief of Puck magazine in 1871. It was published from 1871 until 1918. In 1883 he wrote an essay titled, “New York as a Field for Fiction” the first to bring to the forefront the radical concept and format of New York City as a creative resource. Along with the owners of Puck, he founded the New York Independent Party to foster non-partisan solutions to the nation’s problems.

In 1894 he helped organize the Nutley Amateur Circus, which starred Annie Oakley and raised funds for medical supplies. In 1895 he was honored with a master’s degree from Yale University. Every year Columbia University awards a student with the H.C. Bunner gold medal for the best American literature student essay.

Leonardo Capalbo

Capalbo is an international operatic tenor. He graduated from NHS in 1996 and studied at Juilliard, then continued his training at the Musical Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, under the legendary Marilyn Horne. In 2004 he made his operatic debut as Paccoin de Falla’s “La vida breve” for Opera North.

He has performed with some of the more famous opera personalities in multiple venues throughout the United States and Europe, as well as Brazil. 

Phil Cuzzi

Major League Umpire Phil Cuzzi was born in Aug. 29, 1955, in Newark and was raised in Belleville where he graduated from Belleville High School in 1973. He has lived in Nutley for the past 20 years with his wife Gilda. Cuzzi received a bachelor’s of arts degree in education from Glassboro State University in 1977.

He studied at the Harry Wendlestadt Umpiring School in Ormond Beach, Florida. Cuzzi said he went to Umpire school four times.

He then began to officiate in the minor leagues in New York-Penn League, the Carolina League, the South Atlantic League and the Florida State League divisions.

Cuzzi officiated his first major league game, the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers and worked alongside his mentor, Harry Wendlestadt. He umpired major games including wild card games, division series, National League championships, All-Star games and recently the 2017 World Series.

He established the Robert Luongo ALS Fund, Inc. after Luongo, a childhood friend, died after battling Lou Gehrig's disease in 2004.

Rena DeAngelo

DeAngelo is a movie and television set decorator, born and raised in Nutley and is a 1984 graduate of NHS. A University of Delaware graduate in 1988 earning a bachelor’s of science degree in fashion design.

She shared the 2016 nominee for an Academy Award Oscar for her work on the movie “Bridge of Spies.”  In 2008 she shared a Primetime Emmy for her work on an episode of the television drama “Mad Men.”  She has been nominated for several other awards from such as BAFTA, the Art Directors Guild, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Online Film and Television Association and the San Francisco Film Critics’ Choice. 

David DiFrancesco

DiFrancesco is a photo scientist, inventor, cinematographer, and photographer.  He is graduated from NHS in 1967 and then Wisconsin University.

He is a founding member of organizations which pioneered computer graphics for digital special effects and film with Edwin Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith including New York Institute of Technology Computer Graphics Lab, Lucasfilm Computer Division and Pixar Animation Studios.

DiFrancesco was the director of photoscience division at Pixar Animation Studios. He invented the world’s first laser scanning and recording device for 35mm motion picture film and called the process PixarVision. In 2004, he designed a custom LED-based stroboscopic lighting system to synchronize the animation of physical Pixar “Toy Story” characters in the Pixar Zoetrope first shown in the Museum of Modern Art for the 20th anniversary. He has earned two scientific and engineering technical academy awards and has 16 patents. 

Thomas J. Evans

Evans is a lifelong resident and a 1973 graduate of NHS, who and graduated with honors from Fairleigh Dickenson University in 1977 with a bachelors of science degree in accounting. He is a corporate educator and a certified public accountant. He began his 38-year career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 1977 and became a partner in 1988.

In 2003 he became the chief learning officer, responsible for 39,000 United States employees. He initiated many innovative programs at PwC. In 2011, his responsibilities expanded internationally, when he was named development leader for PwC West Cluster firms across North and South America. He was featured on the cover of Corporate Learning Officer Magazine, with an accompanying article, as its 2014 Corporate Learning Officer of the Year.  He retired from PwC in 2015 and is currently the board advisor at

He is presently a Nutley commissioner overseeing the revenue and finance department.

David Gilbert

Gilbert, a virtuoso flutist and a symphony orchestra conductor, has been a resident since 1986. He earned a master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music. Gilbert served as the principal member of that flute with the United States Marine Corp Band. 

While he conducted many ensembles, most notably he won the 1970 Dmitri Mitropoulos International Conducting Competition, was assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic and was principal conductor of the American Ballet Theatre.  From 1980 to 1982 he served as principal guest conductor of the Beijing Central Philharmonic and was instrumental in its rebuilding as the first American musician to hold a position of prominence in China.

Adam C. LaReau

LaReau is a former United States Navy’s SEAL lieutenant commander. He is a 1999 graduate of NHS and was appointed to the United States Merchant Marine Academy and graduated in 2002. He was the first Merchant Marine Academy graduate to be accepted into the Navy’s SEAL program. He served as a SEAL officer for 11 years. 

During his service, he received two bronze stars, nine service and two combat ribbons and three presidential and one Navy unit citations.   He left active duty in August 2013 and attended Harvard Kennedy School of Government receiving a master of public administration degree.

He is the co-founder of O2X, a company that trains and educates first responders, tactical and elite organizations on maximizing human performance. He created the non-profit One Summit to help build resilience in children with cancer. He has received the Harvard’s Robert F. Kennedy award for Public Service, 2014 Light of Leadership Award and 2017 Distinguished Alumni Commencement speaker from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, 2015 Mass General Hospital “The One Hundred” honoree and the U.S. finalist in Harvard’s President Challenge entrepreneur competition. is a member of the New Jersey Press Association, and is the only locally owned news organization serving the Township of Nutley.

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