The New York Turtle and Tortoise Society

Remembering JoAnn Vacchiano

We are saddened to learn of the death of JoAnn Vacchiano, a longtime member of NYTTS, on January 20, 2011. Many of our members will remember JoAnn, a regular attendee at the Annual NYTTS Show and various other Society events and activities. She was always a generous contributor to our raffles and fundraising efforts, and an enthusiastic supporter of our organization’s efforts on behalf of chelonians.

This is very sad news for all of us. JoAnn was a devoted turtle person. She will be missed.

JoAnn is pictured here at the Annual Turtle and Tortoise Show in 2001 with Show Judge Bill McCord after winning Best In Show for her leopard tortoise. Photo by Anita Salzberg

Below is JoAnn at the 2007 Annual Turtle and Tortoise show. Photo by Kay Martin

JoAnn Vacchiano, born January 4, 1944, was a graduate of St. John's University in Queens, New York, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts, and a Masters degree. She taught specialty early childhood reading at P.S. 116K in Bushwick, Brooklyn, from 1988 to 2004. She was an active member of the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society as she loved these and all animals, adored antiques and shopping for them in flea markets, and enjoyed attending Indian pow-wows and car shows. JoAnn, at the age of 67, died on January 20, 2011. —Nick Caruso

JoAnn Vacchiano was the daughter of William Vacchiano, a former Juilliard faculty member and legendary first trumpet of the New York Philharmonic during the Leonard Bernstein years. William Vacchiano died in 2005 at the age of 93. He taught at Juilliard for 67 years, from 1935 until 2002. His more than 2,000 students included Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, and Philip Smith, the Philharmonic's current principal trumpeter. I first met his daughter, JoAnn, at Juilliard in May 2003 when her father was awarded an honorary doctorate. Subsequently, I frequently spoke with her at NYTTS shows and meetings. She was quite amused that we both had Juilliard and the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society in common. (We had both won Best in Show, in different years.) She was very warm and friendly. Her passing is quite sudden, premature, and unexpected. Her age was only 67. I will miss her sunny presence. —Michael Sherwin

Thank you for the nice remembrance of Jo Ann Vacchiano on your website. For the past six years I have been writing the biography of her father who was principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic. She was a wonderful resource throughout my research and became a friend in the process. We always exchanged Christmas cards and this year I had included the cover art for the book just before I learned of her illness—I never knew if she received this card. I am very saddened by her passing and will greatly miss our conversations. —Brian & Kristin Shook