Ralph Torcello dies at 89
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Ralph M. Torcello, 89, of Batavia, N.Y., passed away peacefully on Jan. 8 at the United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia after a brief illness.
Born on Sept. 29, 1930 and raised in Batavia, Mr. Torcello was the son of Michael C. Torcello Sr. and Mary Torcello (Feniello). He grew up on the family farm on Creek Road in Batavia and lived there until his death.
Mr. Torcello graduated from Batavia High School in the late 1940s and was the first in his family to attend college, graduating from Buffalo State College with his B.A. in education. He served in the U.S. Army following his graduation and after his duty was completed, taught Industrial Arts to high school students in the Letchworth Central School District until his retirement.
Mr. Torcello’s passion was harness racing. During college he worked part-time as a security guard at Batavia Downs and that began a lifetime of involvement in the sport that would last almost 70 years. He was an owner, trainer and driver and raced almost entirely in Western New York.
Mr. Torcello trained and often drove his small stable of horses after getting his license in 1962. During that time he raced campaigners like Gypsy Flash, Gold Piece, Outlaw Collins and Bait The Trap. His last driving win came in 1993 in a lifetime best effort with a trotting mare named Spell Rosie followed by his last training win in 1999 with one of his better horses, What About Bob. His love of the sport spread to many in his family who later owned, trained and drove horses themselves.
Mr. Torcello was preceded in death by nine brothers and sisters, Anna Strollo (Michael), Marie Perry (Samuel), Frances, Lawrence (Madeline), Rose, Angeline, Genevieve, Michael Jr. (Patricia) and Marcella, as well as by his nephew, Anthony M. Strollo. He is survived by his nieces and nephews, Ann Marie Caste (Paul) of New Jersey, Michael C. Torcello (Lynn) of Delaware and Lawrence Torcello (Katie) of East Bethany, Mary Jo Dumuhosky and Ross Perry, both of Batavia, Michael L. Torcello (Deborah) of Hamburg, Ralph P. Torcello (Diane) of Pavilion and Marirose Ethington (Larry) of East Bethany. He is also survived by numerous grand-nieces and nephews, as well as his longtime friend, Hiland Clark.
Mr. Torcello was a member of Ascension Catholic Church in Batavia and a former member of the New York State Teachers’ Association and the United States Trotting Association.
There will be a mass in celebration of Mr. Torcello’s life at the Ascension Parish, 19 Sumner St. in Batavia on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. Memorials may be made to United Memorial Hospital Foundation.