By MADDY VITALE
Andrew Sannino, Sea Isle City’s oldest former lifeguard who was part of the 100th anniversary celebration for the beach patrol, has died at the age of 103.
Sannino was born and raised in Sea Isle and graduated from Ocean City High School in 1937. He lived in Camden County for many years with his wife Ida “Joan” (Dever) and six children, before moving to Williamstown, according to his obituary from Godfrey Funeral Home of Palermo. He passed away on Dec. 2.
In July of 2019, Sannino was Grand Marshal of the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol’s 100th year celebration and parade.
“I am honored to be chosen as the marshal,” he said then in an interview with SeaIsleNews.com, with his family surrounding him. “It’s nice. I liked being a lifeguard. It was a good time.”
Sannino was a lifeguard at the 43rd Street beach for just one year back in 1941. His time on the beach patrol was cut short when he went to serve his country. He was a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II.
Sannino was born on Nov. 11, 1918, the final day of World War I. He made a career in the electronics field and worked for many years at General Electric’s Aerospace Division.
Joe LaRosa, a former longtime Sea Isle resident and local historian, was a lifeguard from 1969 to 1984. While he did not know Sannino as a lifeguard, LaRosa knew him as his friends’ father.
“I grew up with his daughters. We all used to play,” LaRosa said. “The Sanninos had a big family. He was Mr. Sannino, to me. He was my dad’s generation, and he was friends with my father and my uncle.”
LaRosa recalled the family home. “The Sanninos had a very big house at 43rd and Central and I was two houses away. They were here in the summer. They were our summer friends. I knew the family. We all grew up together. Mr. Sannino was very friendly. He was the dad in a big Italian family in Sea Isle.”
LaRosa chronicled Sannino’s life for Sea Isle Times magazine in 2019 during the centennial year of the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol.
An excerpt from LaRosa’s article provides a glimpse into Sannino’s year as a lifeguard:
For the summer of 1941, rather than go out with the commercial fishing boats, 22-year-old Andy decided to join his brothers Jim and Chris on the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol. His brother Jim had already been on the patrol for a number of years, joining the squad in the mid-1930s.
The tryout consisted of a swimming test that he easily passed. He was then given a uniform and a whistle and hit the beach. Rather than a “Rookie School,” he received on-the-job training at the hands of the Senior Guard on his beach section.
Amazingly, he was usually assigned to sit with his older brother Jim on the 43rd Street beach, just down the street from their house. It was also where the headquarters “tent” was located. His younger brother Chris was assigned as a “substitute” lifeguard, filling in when others were off or absent.
One of the great benefits of working the 43rd Street stand was that his mother provided him with a fresh lunch daily, hand delivered by one of his sisters.
Visitation for Andrew Sannino will be at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Sea Isle from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Dec. 9, followed by a funeral Mass at noon. Burial will be at the Calvary Baptist Cemetery in Ocean View.