Former State Assemblyman Castelli Dies at 74

Obituary Reports the death of an individual, providing an account of the person’s life including their achievements, any controversies in which they were involved, and reminiscences by people who knew them.

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Robert J. Castelli

Former State Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli, who served two terms in Albany, died May 21. He was 74.

Born Dec. 16, 1949, the Katonah resident dedicated his life to public service beginning at the age of 17 when he left high school to join the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Following basic and advanced infantry training, he volunteered for service in Vietnam, where he was assigned to the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Air Cavalry Division as an infantryman.

He arrived in Vietnam and participated in combat operations during the Tet Offensive of 1968, including the Battles of Hue, Khe Sanh, and the A Shau Valley, three of the largest battles of the war. As an infantry point man and later a reconnaissance company team member, he rose to the rank of Sergeant by the age of 19 and remained in Vietnam through part of 1969. He returned home and continued to serve as a training instructor at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, until leaving the Army to return to school. His commendations included the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Air Assault Badge, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, as well as unit awards such as the Presidential Unit Citation and Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.

After completing his education, he began a career in law enforcement as a State Constable in South Carolina, followed by a distinguished 21-year career with the New York State Police, where he served as a trooper, sergeant, investigator, and station commander.

With a graduate degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Westchester County will fly flags at half-staff on Thursday, May 23 in honor of the late Robert J. Castelli.Castelli transitioned to academia, teaching at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Marist College, and Iona College, where he eventually became chairman of the Criminal Justice Department.

He continued his public service by serving four years on the Town Board of Lewisboro in and was later elected to two terms in the New York State Assembly. There, he served as a ranking member on the Veterans Affairs Committee and passed several significant pieces of veterans’ legislation.

“I am saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend Bob Castelli. Though we were political opponents at one time, we became good friends in the process,” said State Sen. Peter Harckham (D/Lewisboro). “While the term ‘patriot’ is used too casually these days, Bob truly was a patriot. He was a Vietnam veteran and served as a New York State Trooper, councilman on the Lewisboro Town Board and a member of the New York State Assembly. He was a gentleman and a scholar. I will miss him.”

Outside of his professional life, Castelli enjoyed spending time outdoors. An avid sportsman and conservationist, he was a member of the Campfire Club of America and Explorers Club. In his early years, he indulged in sports cars, skydiving, and competitive trap shooting. He also loved hunting, port wine, cigars, and, most of all, spending time with family and friends.

He is survived by his beloved wife Jeanette, his children, Christian (Sharon) Castelli and Paul (Jourdan) Castelli, and his grandchildren, Sarah, Keegan, Katelynn, Eric and Payton.

Westchester County flew flags at half-staff May 23 in honor of Castelli.

A celebration of his life took place at the Campfire Club of America in Chappaqua on May 24. A Mass of Christian Burial was held May 25 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Somers. Interment followed at St. John’s Cemetery in Queens.

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