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Sam Ciervo


Sam Ciervo, better known as “Mr. Ciervo,” died unexpectedly on January 25, 2017 at the age of 63.

A pillar of his community, he was a passionate, respected English teacher for 25 years at his alma mater, Pompton Lakes High School (PLHS). He taught legions of students the difference between “good” and “well,” and inspired many to become teachers. While his deep humility meant downplaying his own accomplishments, he earned many accolades including Teacher of the Year (twice, a rarity) and Coach of the Year by His Peers from the N.J.I.F.A. Most important to him was the respect he earned from students, parents, colleagues, coaches and peers.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Joanne, his beloved daughters, Clare and Emily, his sisters, Vikki and Rose, his nieces, Cailin and Keri, and his loving extended family and circle of friends. These people experienced his greatest gift: unrelenting devotion to his loved ones. Always present and helping, often before he was asked, he was a companion by the bedside in hospitals, an on-call family repair man, a supporter at every event for his children, and a daily presence in his parents’ lives. We will never know a man more devoted to his family than Sam, Dad, Mr. Ciervo.

Friends are invited to visit with the family on Sunday, January 29 from 2-5 PM at Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home, Wayne. A service will begin at 5 PM including eulogies and a joyful celebration of Sam’s life.

As a tribute to Sam’s legacy, his family intends to create a memory book. They would like to include your stories and fond memories. “Mr. Ciervo” certainly touched many lives as a teacher, a coach, and a friend, and you are all encouraged to write down your special story and bring it with you to the funeral home on Sunday where they will be collected and given to the family. If you are unable to attend on Sunday but would like to share a memory please feel free to email them to and include in the subject line: Memories of Sam Ciervo.

In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to the “Sam Ciervo Memorial Scholarship Fund,” care of PLHS, 44 Lakeside Ave., Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442.

Guest Book


Vikki, Rose and Family - I don't even know where to begin - please know that you are in my thoughts and please accept my deepest, heart-felt condolences. Wendy

Wendy (Nichols) Kent


One of the best teachers I ever had. Was one of a kind. My condolences to the family. RIP.

Eric Plowman


I loved Sam. One of the most compassionate and caring men I've ever met. What a loss to all.??

Angela Bachmann


Words cannot express the sadness I feel - Mr. Ciervo was truly a Gentleman and a Scholar - he was very special to both of my children as a friend as well as a teacher - may he rest in peace in the arms of the angels.

Audrey Hogan


Condolences to the family. He was an exceptional teacher.

Kelli Musall


There is not enough space here to convey the influence Mr. Cuervo had on me as a person. His unconditional regard and belief in me as a student still resonates with me twenty years later. The world is a little less warm and kind with this loss. His family is in my thoughts at this difficult time.

Tiffany Coward-Krastins


Dear Joanne, Clare, Emily, Vikki, Rose and Family, We are among countless people who love Sam and who received such generous, loving friendship from him over many years.Sam is a remarkable man and we are blessed that he was part of our lives. He was Michael's closest friend for decades. He will always be with us in our hearts.

Michael Glazer and Janice Lee Juvrud


My thoughts and prayers go out to the Ciervos and the Bachmann family during this difficult time. Thank you Sam for being such a positive influence for my children, Scott and Christine Sutton. Emily, we are here for you if you need us. We love you. Rest in sweet peace Mr. Ciervo. Mary Sutton

Mary Sutton


Sam was a man of integrity and always a gentleman.

Jeanne Richmond


Most memorable teacher. His kindness, patience and encouragement made a difference for me and I'm sure many others. You are a great soul Mr Ci---Er---Vo



Mr. Ciervo was the best teacher I had in high school. He was a man who cared deeply for his students and I learned a lot from him. I was very saddened to hear of his passing. My thoughts are with his family.

Marc Beiner


My condolences to your family...I will always remember Sam as a friendly, smiling coworker who always had a kind word to say. His memory will live on at PLHS; he is someone I really enjoyed working with and will never forget.

Lori Conte


Condolences to your family. I did not have the privelagde of having Mr. Ciervo as a teacher but everyone knew him, he was an exceptional man! Praying for you all!

Christina Nicoletti


My heartfelt condolences to the family & many friends of Mr. Ciervo. He was my teacher , coach , mentor & dear friend. I learned so many valuable life lessons & will always cherish the memories shared with Mr.Ciervo. I learned how to be a better young man from his guidance & teachings both in class , on the soccer pitch & in life.

Patrick J Giles


graduated Pompton with Sam. Will always remember him as a quiet and gentle compassionate man. His legacy are the wonderful tributes many are giving to him. My sympathies to the family

Laurie Roberts Strippoli


Sam Ciervo was a teacher who inspired every student he taught. He was, in my eyes, what a teacher should be and mean to his students. He always had a smile when walking down the halls of PLHS, and you always knew that he loved being there and loved what he did. It touches my heart to see so many of his students give him the praises he so deserved. Rest in Peace Sam.

Christine Dietch


I first met Mr. Ciervo as a teacher, the most inspiring, one of the few I remember well. Later on, I knew him as a parent when our children attended the same daycare, seeing him in a different light as a loving and devoted husband and father. It's been so many years since I left town, but he remains a bright star from my past, one of the kindest people I've met. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends during this very sad time.

Kim (McCue) Karant


Dear Joanne, Just learned of Sam's death and that if his fathers passing. We are so saddened and extend our sympathy to you and your girls. Remember when we would get together and begin talking business - we were no match for Sam and Becky talking endlessly about school and their interests and passions for teaching!! You would also keep me informed of his Fencing teams, coaching and how he impacted those students, not just the English class students! Only the best to you. Phil

phil sido


Dear Joanne, So sorry to here of Sam's passing. He was such a wonderful co-worker and neighbor to my sister, Catherine Brolsma. I will always remember how kind both of you were to her. Thinking of you and your wonderful girls at this very sad time. Annie Bracchitta

Anne Bracchitta


He is a sad day for Pompton Lakes and Beyond. He was a great teacher and a true fan and coach of soccer. I had the privilege of working with him in the PLRSA. RIP. Your spirit will be missed. Dave Coppola

David Coppola


Very sad... Sam was a most respected coach and one of the best w/whom I've worked... Disheartening that his knowledge and expertise will no longer be passed to youth fencers... He will be greatly missed... May his soul rest in peace... Robert Black, Referee, former Santelli & USNA fencer

Robert Black


Dear Joanne, Clare & Emily...just heard the heartbreaking news...all he meant to the girls, the whole soccer (back when the traveling girls team almost drove him crazy; & esp. PLHS fencing families, and plainly, as a beautiful, decent man...deepest condolences to you all...<3

Patricia Snyder


I was honored to ref Sam's teams and to be his reffing colleague. His devotion to "the whole fencer" on- and off-the-strip placed him among the finest.



Mr. Ciervo was an amazing teacher and a kind soul. He was an inspiration (as he was to SO many of us in high school) for my passion for writing and reading. Something I still love to this day. I moved away for college and lived out of state for almost 10 years. The first year I moved back and bumped into Mr. Ciervo at TD Bank. I saw him come in and thought, "He won't remember me. I won't say hi." But, he did, he remembered me and stopped me to say hello and asked me how I was and what was I up to. I told him a brief history in the day of Tracy Golding (warm smile). He asked what I went to college for and when I told him I majored in Journalism (then, went back to school for English), his eyes lit up. I felt like I did him proud and it felt so amazing to know that he felt that way. It was an honor knowing him and being taught by him. My thoughts are with his family during this time.

Tracy Golding


Condolences to the family. It is difficult for me to put into words how much of an effect Mr. Ciervo had on my intellectual development. He challenged me in a way that few other teachers did, and he did so with kindness, humor, and fairness. It is a sad day, and I take solace in knowing that many, many former students and athletes of his were equally inspired and moved by his works. He will be missed.

Shawn Jackson


we are so sorry for your loss ,our thoughts are with you and your family , may he rest in peace , and may his memory be eternal , may god be with you all through this difficult time .i

rita awad


I am so sorry for your loss. Although I never had him as a teacher, he always had a smile on his face and always said hello to the students in the hallway.

Bernadette Williams


Joanne and family, I can't tell you how saddened we were to hear of Sam's passing. We only have good memories of him. He was always kind and friendly man that loved his family, he will be very missed by many. Love, Joan and Paul

Joan and Paul Finnerty


Joanne, Clare and Emily, my thoughts and prayers are with all of you. I cannot imagine how you feel. I am very saddened of the heartbreaking news of Sam's passing. R.I.P Sam. Peter and Ingrid Kouyialis

Peter Kouyialis


Sam C was an amazing individual that came into my life 6 years ago. He was an inspiration to me from the first day I met him. He treated me like I was one of his own which is one of the many great qualities he had. Sam will be forever missed for me & many others. My deepest condolences to his lovely wife Joanne and to the rest of the family.

Chris M


The world is a little less warm and much darker with the loss of Mr. Ciervo. Joanne, Clare and Emily, My thoughts and prayers are with you. Let your hearts dance to great and proud memories. Sam Ciervo is the Legend.

Alia Attyeh


Mr. Ciervo was not only an amazing teacher, but also a kind friend. He was always teasing, but I always felt that he truly cared about my friends and me. He was always concerned about his students and anyone could tell he put a lot of time and effort to make the lessons count. I'm one of the privileged few that had him for three different classes, which I enjoyed. Even after high school, I still met up with him to chat and see how everything was going. I only wish I could have seen him one more time to say hi and tell him about all I've accomplished thanks to him. Thank you for your kindness and time, Mr. Ciervo. You will be missed greatly.

Kathleen Massa


Our hearts and thoughts are with you all. We are reeling from this sad news, as we know you are. What an amazing person. Love and hugs to all the Ciervos, Chris

Christine Ramsey


I want to send my sincere condolences to the family. I had the privilege of having Mr. Ciervo as my teacher. He was a remarkable man who taught us to question, to stand up for what we believed, and to be our very best. He truly inspired his students. I am a better person because of him. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

Antonella (Valotto) DaSilv


My sincere condolences to the family on your loss An exceptional teacher and coach, my children were blessed to have been in his classes and soccer and fencing teams. My heart goes out to all of you at this difficult time

Deborah Hanrahan


Joanne I'm very sorry for your loss, I just can't imagine why God taken him so prematurely , I could only remember him a man full of dignity, kindness and full of life, always lending a helping hand even if he asked for it or not, RIP Sam , Joanne ,Clare and Emily saying a special prayer for your family, Please accept my sincere condolences.

Augustina Samuel


I was so blessed to have a caring, compassionate, and good-hearted brother like you. Thank you for everything you ever did for me. I will never forget it and I will never forget you. I will love you forever.

Vikki Anderson


Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. The DeMaio Family

Peggy DeMaio


Dear Joanne, Clare and Emily: My heartfelt, deepest sympathies for your loss. Sam has left an indelible mark of kindness, compassion and love on this earth in many capacities. May you find some comfort and peace in the love and support that surrounds you through this very difficult time. Lifting you all up in prayer and loving energies.

Jeannie (Serven/Halat) Hoeppner


Our deepest condolences to the Ciervo family - what a great guy gone to soon!

Addy and Pasqua


I can remember sitting on the curb at our homes on Ramapo Ave some 50 years ago as we contemplated what we were going to do with our lives after high school. I'm honored to be able to call him my friend but feel a part of me is missing right now. My prayers and loving thoughts are with his family - Joanne, Clare, and Emily, and his sisters Vikki and Rose. May the memory of Sam be a treasure that we'll keep forever.

Guy Ball


You were the lucky one if you knew this great man. Every time we had a family gathering or function, he always went out of his way to make us all feel welcome, important, and loved. He always told me to stick with teaching he always offered his wise words, and for that I will always be grateful. Sam, you left a special mark on so many people. May you RIP and will never, ever be forgotten.

Kara Mancini


Our deepest condolences to you and your family. You are very much in our thoughts and prayers.

Carol Heinz and Bill Madden


I am very saddened to hear of Mr. Ciervo's passing. He was my favorite teacher at PLHS; a super intelligent, funny, and kind man that made a lifelong impact on so many of his students. My condolences to the family during this difficult time.

Eric Burczynski


Sam was a classic, a bit like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," who did his part to keep Pompton Lakes from turning into Pottersville. His dynamic spirit lives on in the many lives he touched and inspired -- I think he earned his wings. I am forever grateful for the support he gave to me and my books. My deepest condolences to all his family, friends and students.

Cat Bauer


Joanne, Clare and Emily, We were so sad to hear about the passing of Sam.( Mr. Ciervo) He truly left such a positive impact on my girls, Alison and Michelle. He retired the year before my youngest entered PLHS. I remember selfishlessly asking him to stay just one more year, so that my youngest could have him as a teacher as well. Thank you for sharing him with us. May the memories bring you comfort and peace knowing that he was so special in the lives of so many young people. The Tetla girls, and their Mom, (Angela).

Angela Tetla


I was privileged to know Sam later on in life as Allen and I became neighbors with he and Joanne and the girls, Claire & Emily. They're wonderful people, great neighbors. Allen and Sam enjoyed talking over the fence (so to speak, as we didn't have fences, more coming through the forsythia bushes for a chat). After Allen died, Sam came marching through the forsythia bushes and said to me, "Donna, I need to tell you something" I said, "Yes, Sam, what is it?" He said to me that he was so inspired by Allen through the last months of his life, Allen's courage and positive attitude, that he decided to volunteer for Hospice to help people. And so he did.....that was Sam, always helping..... Sam and I had many a conversations as he came around the forsythia bushes, always him starting, "Donna, I need to talk to you...." Like the time he said, "Donna, how come the deer eat all my flowers, but don't touch anything in your yard?" I said, "Well, Sam, I guess they have dinner at your house and they sleep at mine!" The deer drove him crazy, they ate everything in his yard, to the point he stopped planting flowers and created a painted stick garden! Quite creative, really (it appealed to my artist side), he would paint sticks in varying shapes and sizes and colors and plant them into the garden beds! After my Allen died, Sam wouldn't let me do a thing in my yard - he mowed, he raked, he shoveled (or, more aptly, he used Allen's gigantic, colossal size snowblower, which Sam loved, he said it made the snow removal a breeze, I was thankful for that on Sam's behalf!). One fall, I marched through the forsythia bushes and said, "Sam, I have to talk to you." He said, "Yes, Donna, how can I help?" I said, "Sammy, I'm hiring a crew to clean my yard and yours this fall." Well, Sam was having none of it, but I insisted that was what I was going to do, he did too much! Finally, he agreed, albeit reluctantly. Two days later, I'm getting out of my car in my driveway and Sam comes marching through the forsythia bushes, "Donna, I need to talk to you." "Yes, Sam, what is it?" He said, "I don't want you to hire anyone, I'm going to take care of the yards." I protested for several minutes, pleaded, go, he was adamant that he was going to do it and that was that. The years go by after Allen's passing and I had my house on and off the market a few times, then my Aunt Jean moved in with me in 2011. It was January of 2013 and Sam had already retired from teaching. I'm in the yard and Sam comes through the forsythia bushes, "Donna, I have to talk you." "Yes, Sam, what is it?" "Well, I wanted to let you know that Joanne and I have decided to put the house on the market in the Spring and move on, I want to downsize from this big house." "Okay, Sam, sounds like a good idea." Sam turns to go inside, and I head into the house and I run up the back stairs yelling "JEAN, we've got to put the house back on the market, we have to get out of here, Sam's selling and I can't live here without Sam!!!" I sold and moved out the end of May 2013 and Sam sold and moved out the end of that summer in 2013. He was a wonderful, kind, smart, funny, compassionate man and I will always remember his kindnesses to me and Allen. Safe journey, Sam, see you on the other side. Love to all, Donna

Donna Edwards Suhl


Joanne, Clare & Emily, Our hearts are broken. We were Sam & Joanne's neighbors for 20 years. He was the most kind and compassionate person who would of done anything to help someone in need..We watched Clare and Emily grow into beautiful young women and Sam was so proud of his girls and Joanne you were the love of his life.. Sam and Jack were like magnets. They would both be out in the yard working and when one saw the other they gravitated into the middle of the street and would talk for long periods of time. This was almost a daily thing. They were buddies attached at the hip.. We so enjoyed the few times we got together in Montclair for dinner. Joanne, Sam adored you and we're so happy you had many wonderful years together and we'll always be here for you!! Love, Jack & Linda Montello

Lack & Linda Montello


Joanne and family. My heart aches for you and your family. My sincerest condolences.

Ellen Eichenblatt

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