The following is the eulogy delivered by Fort Lee Councilman Joseph Cervieri last Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 at the funeral of Nat Infurna, who died at the age of 91 on Oct. 2, according to a NorthJersey.com obituary. Cervieri told Patch he was friends with Infurna for about 30 years.
Born June 16, 1921, and Baptized Natale Infurna, Nat’s parents brought him when they emigrated to Bensonhurst Brooklyn in the early 20th Century from Brazil.
His dad was a sewing machine mechanic and his mom a pattern maker.
Nat was raised in a loving family, which supported his desire to attend college. He was a celebrated high school athlete who received four scholarship offers from several colleges, including a full basketball scholarship at Perdue in Indiana where Nat wished to attend.
Unfortunately, Nat told me he was unable to attend Perdue since his folks did not have the funds to get him there. He attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn on a basketball scholarship where he earned his Bachelor of the Arts Degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1943.
Nat enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he was trained as an engineer and pilot. During WWII, Nat served as a pilot Instructor in the Marinara, off the Philippines, where he flew missions piloting the B-29 Wichita Witch. After completing his tour of duty in 1946, he joined the Army Air Force Reserves and in 1954 was drafted, and he piloted the B-29, flying many combat missions during the Korean Conflict.
Upon is Honorable discharge, Nat became a private pilot for a major corporation for business travel. He became the representative for the French Bureau of Veritas (FAA), inspecting and certifying the airworthiness of the Air France Fleet including jumbo jets and the supersonic Concorde.
Nat was a member of the elite “Quiet Birdman Organization of Aircraft Pilots of Past and Present,” and was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame.
He told me that he earned the nickname, “U-turn,” since he said that whenever he took off and started his jet’s ascent, if he saw a cloud in the sky, he would turn the craft around.
He said, “The cemeteries are filled with heroes,” and he didn’t wish to join them.
Of course he was kidding.
Nat was a very proud and caring father to his three children, Richard, Lisa and the late Dr. Robert Infurna.
Nat and Pat Infurna moved to Mediterranean Towers in Fort Lee from NYC in 1969 with the encouragement of one of his Lear-Jet passengers, John Inganimort. Nat and Pat lived in Med South for 15 years when they moved into a house on Riverdale Drive, where they raised and spoiled Nat’s other true love—Mickey, his 100-lb. Golden Retriever.
Nat retired from the Aviation Industry full-time but kept his hand in it as a U.S. Federal Aviation Association Inspector. Not the type to be sedentary, he obtained his real estate license and started on a successful new career where he helped literally hundreds of people and families.
Nat’s volunteer service record is exemplary:
Unico (President), Kiwanis (Past President), Lions Club, Rotary Club, Fort Lee Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of the Eastern Bergen County Board of the National Association of Realtors, Member of the Fort Lee Veterans of Foreign War Fort Lee American Legion Post 244 9Commander)
He served with distinction on Fort Lee’s Planning Board (Chairman & Vice Chairman), Zoning Board of Adjustment (Chairman), Ethics Board (Chairman), Rent Leveling Board, Fort Lee Housing Authority’s Program Coordinating Committee (Chairman).
Nat also served for many years as a Commissioner of the State of NJ Department of Environmental Protection Tidelands Resource Council and Council Member of the Division of Coastal Resources, appointed by four NJ Governors.
Nat use to say as a Pilot:
“The cemeteries are filled with Heroes,” and he didn’t want to be one of them.
Well, his body will join those heroes, and he will always be remembered by all fortunate to have made his acquaintance as a great hero for all he did during his lifetime, affecting, in the most positive way, all whose lives he touched.
If one is brought to this Earth with the mission to leave it in better shape than when you arrived, Nat, you can really know that you earned those true words for which I salute you:
God bless you, Nat Infurna, your family and all your friends.