March 15, 1932 ~ May 17, 2023
Gennaro Chirillo, 91, of Leesburg, Virginia, passed away on May 17, 2023. Gene (known as Jerry to his family) was born on March 11,1932 to Thomas Chirillo and Giovanna Rosato in Gizzeria, Italy. At the tender young age of 5, his family immigrated to Kings Park, New York and settled in Brooklyn, during which time his younger brother, Joseph Chirillo, was born. Gene graduated from East New York Vocational and Technical High School in 1950 and went on to work for Garod Television Company in Brooklyn as a television repair technician. He then enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1952 and served in the Korean War, rising to the rank of Senior Airman and earning 4 medals. In the Air Force, Gene trained and served as an airborne electronics specialist on various military aircraft. Gene was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1955 and took a job with Lockheed Aircraft Services, where he served as an aviation flight electronics technician and flight check inspector.
In 1958, Gene boarded the SS Constitution cruise ship, so that he could visit his beloved Italian family in his birth town of Gizzeria. On the journey to Italy Gene met the love of his life, Laura Petretti, who he married two years later in New York. Lady luck visited Gene twice during that fateful trip, as he also learned that he’d received an offer for a position with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), where Gene would spend the bulk of his career. Gene and Laura subsequently had two children, Roseann and Michael. They enjoyed frequent visits with Gene’s parents, brother Joe’s family, and Laura’s sister Etta and her family.
Early in Gene’s FAA career he installed aviation navigation facilities, Instrumented Landing Systems, and radars across 15 northeastern states. He was then promoted to the regional office at JFK International Airport as an installation supervisor. Gene played a major role in establishing a union for Installation Personnel and became the Union’s first vice president. A few years later in 1967, along with several work buddies from New York, Gene and Laura decided to move from Long Island to the Washington, DC area so that he could advance his career at FAA Headquarters.
In 1969, Gene and Laura settled in Largo, Maryland where they raised their family. While working full time, Gene obtained his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Maryland in 1977. In 1979, Gene and Laura moved to Vienna, Virginia where they resided for 42 years. Gene ultimately attained the position of Chief Program Analysis Officer for the Associate Administrator of Development and Logistics. There he was responsible for preparing and managing budgets; and managing Research Engineering and Facilities and Equipment resources. In 1987, after a 32-year career with the FAA Gene retired, but found he was not quite ready to leave the working world behind. He went on to work as an executive for a small consulting firm, MiTech, where he provided his aviation industry expertise until he fully retired in 2002. Gene later volunteered at the White House performing office work.
In the meantime, Gene and Laura’s family grew to include his children’s spouses and 6 grandchildren whom he loved dearly. He and Laura enjoyed frequent family get-togethers for holidays, birthdays, and milestone celebrations with their grandchildren. Throughout his years in the DC area, Gene became an avid boater and fisherman and frequented the Chesapeake Bay near Reedville, Virginia. He liked the area so much that he built a second home where he would spend much of his leisure time with Laura and the children. Later in life, Gene particularly loved spending time there with all his family, sharing his love of the bay with the grandkids. During his retirement years, Gene and Laura traveled to Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England. France, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia, and Croatia. In 2021, Gene and Laura left their home in Vienna to move to a retirement community in Leesburg, Virginia where they enjoyed several new friendships.
Gene had a great love for his wife Laura and his family, and they for him. He was proud to have served his country through his Air Force service and federal service. He had a great passion for the FAA and aviation industry and deep affection for his FAA colleagues and friends. Gene maintained close relationships with his extended family including those in the old country and made a special effort to keep in touch. It goes without saying that Gene was proud of his Italian heritage.
Gene was predeceased by his father, Thomas Chirillo; his mother, Giovanna Rosato; and his sister Maria Chirillo. Gene is survived by his wife, Laura Petretti Chirillo, his daughter Roseann Chirillo Alvarez and son-in-law George, his son Michael Chirillo and daughter-in-law Cheryl; his brother Joseph Chirillo and sister-in-law Marie; his grandchildren, John and Michael Chirillo; and Jack, Peter, Bethany, and Bobby Alvarez.
Relatives and friends are invited to Gene’s Celebration of Life at Money and King Funeral Home, 171 W. Maple Ave., Vienna, VA on Tuesday, May 30 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.and 6:00-8:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, 8601 Wolftrap Rd SE, Vienna, VA, on Wednesday, May 31 at 11:00 a.m with reception to immediately follow at a location to be determined. Interment will occur at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.