Remembering a Berkeley Heights YMCA Icon: Frank Cavallo


March 5, 1949 - December 30, 2020

In early January, the Summit Area YMCA celebrated the New Year and everyone began looking forward to an all new beginning to a better 2021. Spirits were high and hope was aplenty—but then, news of the sudden passing of a beloved staff member, Frank Cavallo, shook our Y family to the core. Over the years, Frank had become an icon, a familiar face that many had grown accustomed to whenever entering the Berkeley Heights YMCA facility. It was as if it was a given, that Frank would always be there to smile and welcome you. He was always warm, inviting and built many lasting friendships that extended past the walls of the Y.

Frank started at the Y in 2009 as part of the membership team. He always had a smile when he greeted members and called them by their first name. Frank made everyone feel welcome. When a prospective member came to the Y for a tour, he would always introduce them to the other staff as his cousin. The little children enjoyed seeing Frank when they entered and left the building, and he would give them a high five or a sticker. Frank was a compassionate man with a heart of gold, caring not who you were, where you were from or what your ability was and would do anything to help others.

Frank served on the Summit Area YMCA's Staff Recognition team to help identify and recognize the efforts and good work of fellow staff members. At a Staff Recognition meeting, he once said, "I personally deliver the Staff Recognition awards and nominations to the staff. Whether they win the award or not, I tell them how important they are, that we care and are here to support them, and what great work they are doing. Everyone deserves that."

He helped with the Annual Campaign, the staff campaign and assorted special events. Wherever there was something going on with the Y, Frank was there and ready to help. Frank made the best coffee in town and the members would enjoy a warm cup and conversation in the lobby. If Frank did not see a member at the Y for a few weeks, he would give them a call to see how they were doing. He loved what the Y did for the community and was always proud to talk about the Y as his second home. Frank was a man that loved his family and adored his granddaughters. When his granddaughters would come to the Y, his face would light up and he received the biggest hugs. His family meant the world to him. We will forever miss his warmth and smile, and will always hold him in our hearts. 

"A true friend is never truly gone. Their spirit lives on in the memories of those who loved them."


Memories in honor of Frank Cavallo

From YMCA Staff and Volunteers:
• Frank was a wonderful person to work with. I know that he always enjoyed speaking to members and always saying hello to the kids that were at the Y.

• He will be missed by the employees and the members as well. He had a great rapport with all of the members who came in contact with him.

• R.I.P. to a great guy. We forged a great friendship over our time working at the Y.

• For Frank my first thought is that he was the “coffee king.” At the old BH branch, members just loved to talk with him and drink his coffee. I always joked with him that we were going broke providing all of this free coffee to the members. He would always give the same reply; “They only come in for my coffee Paul, what else am I going to do!” Of course this always generated a big belly laugh from Frank and myself and I will always know that our members at BH are truly there because of the friendship and love of Frank; and his coffee!

• Every time I went to the Berkeley Heights YMCA, Frank always asked how I was doing and kept up to date with my life, remembering details from previous conversations that I never thought someone would bother to remember, and it made me feel so happy. He would ask about my family and even remembered my dogs names! He was a kind man that always made me feel welcomed and I will miss him very much.

• My memories of Frank were that he was always, always courteous and gregarious when dealing with anyone, particularly members and guests. Always providing a laugh along with useful information. He had a special affinity for children and always sought to make them laugh and feel comfortable. On a personal level, we became more than colleagues. He became a friend. He always greeted me heartily when I visited the BH branch, asking how my family was doing and always had a story to share. The BH staff always graciously invited me to their Christmas gathering at a local restaurant. Frank always saved me a seat next to him so we could commiserate. I will miss him much!

• He was so much more than just an employee. Frank was truly committed to the Y’s mission and if he didn’t already volunteer to help, you never had to ask twice for his assistance. He truly cared and made an impact.

• I used to arrive around the time he was finishing his shift, so Frank and I usually had time to talk and not just say ‘hello’. While we often talked about our Yankees, we managed to cover a variety of subjects which always gave me a boost before heading to the locker room.

From YMCA Members:
• Years ago I entered the Y, greeted by a small man with a bit heart ‘Frank’ they called him, and he was just a blip on my radar. Two years later, my life hit a plot twist; cancer took me from a Y member to a member of the YMCA LIVESTRONG® program. Cancer changed not only my membership status, but my outlook on life. I was just 42 when Frank welcomed me back to the Y, this time with an understanding hug and a forgiving smile. He allowed me to come and go, sometimes working out for just 15 minutes. “I’ll see you tomorrow, kid,” he would say encouragingly as I left feeling defeated. After my surgeries, he would welcome me back with a loving hug and let me know that he and the YMCA were there for me. I took Frank for granted; he was always there, offering a gentle wink or a “tough love'' lecture, whichever he saw fit for me. I counted on him as my unsolicited cheerleader. I cannot put into words how deeply he will be missed. As for me, my heart is breaking for the loss of this constant, gentle, man who was for me, the face of the YMCA.

• I will miss Frank's greeting every morning at the Y and the great conversations we had. He had a warm smile and was dedicated to keeping fresh hot coffee. He knew everyone's name and he especially loved playing with the children. A truly wonderful man who will always be in my thoughts. 

• Our condolences to the Cavallo family. Seeing Frank at the YMCA so often for my daughter and I brought us so much camaraderie and laughter. Knowing him will be forever engraved in our hearts. There is very few people who are as kind and caring as Frank. We are so sad not to be able attend. We grieve the loss of him and will be remembered by the two of us forever.

• We are deeply saddened to hear of Frank’s passing. Our deepest condolences to you and your family. We will really miss seeing Frank at the Y.

• I will never forget Frank playing peek a boo with my Penelope. He made everyone feel like they were home at the Y. Thank you Frank. All our love.

• We just heard the sad news about Frank’s passing. We will miss him at the “Y.” We are keeping you and the family in our thoughts and prayers.

• I had the good fortune to meet Frank through activities at Little Flower Church, and also to see him at the YMCA. His sincerity and kindness was evident at the first time I spoke with him and his passing is a loss to all who knew him. I am sending prayers to the whole Cavallo family and ask that you please accept my deep condolences.

• Feeling so sad -will miss Frank’s smiling face and the fun conversations we had at the Y. My heart is breaking for his family. May he RIP.

• I am absolutely devastated to hear of Frank’s passing. I saw Frank nearly every morning at the YMCA for the past 7 years. We would frequently talk about life, family and even my trips aboard. He was one of the people I looked forward to seeing every day. I would tell him often that my day was not complete if I didn’t see him - and it was true! Frank added brightness to my day – I am sure many others feel the same. He was a wonderful person and he will be missed tremendously.

• Frank always welcomed me with a big hug and kiss every time I walked into the YMCA. I always said he was like a second grandpa to me. He will truly be missed. Love always.

• Frank will be missed! I enjoyed going into the Y and knew I'd always get a big "hello" and smile from Frank. Sympathies to his family.

• I'm deeply sorry your family is experiencing the pain of such an unexpected loss. His family was the center of his universe. Wishing you comfort and strength in the days and weeks ahead. His smile and presence at the Y will be missed.

• Read more about Frank's life and his Tribute Wall in the Tribute Archive at:

• Donations in Frank's memory can be made to The Berkeley Heights YMCA at