Anthony Scotto, a World War II infantryman who taught social studies for 30 years at Kings Park High School, died Tuesday at an assisted living facility in Indian Land, South Carolina. He was 93.
The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son Michael Scotto of Medford.
Scotto received two Bronze Battle Stars for his service in Northern France and the Rhineland and received a Purple Heart for a wound sustained in combat near the German town of Saarlautern.
He told the story of the Purple Heart in a remembrance posted on the website of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, recalling a Jan. 10, 1945, morning patrol. “We scurried from one house to another,” he wrote.
Crossing a street, a sergeant in the unit detonated a German mine. A medic who ran out to help him detonated another mine. When Scotto and another soldier tried to drag them to safety, Scotto set off a mine too, losing part of his right leg.
He injected himself and the medic with morphine, he wrote. Then, as enemy bullets struck between his legs and above his head, “I yelled back for smoke.” That “gave others an opportunity to effect rescue for the medic and myself.”
Scotto later titled his autobiography “Lucky Being Unlucky,” in part a reference to that near-death experience.
Anthony Joseph Scotto was born Feb. 19, 1925, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. His father, Michele Scotto di Santoli, was a dockworker; his mother, the former Marguerite Castagliola di Mignovillo, was a homemaker. Both were immigrants from a small town near Naples, Italy.
Before the war, Scotto was a machinist’s helper. His injury made it hard to stand for any period of time, ruling that out as a career. Instead, with the help of the GI Bill, he attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn and Teachers College, Columbia University.
For his father and members of that generation from pre-gentrification Brooklyn, Michael Scotto said, “College was a dream. A decent home was a dream.”
Scotto taught at Kings Park High School from 1953 to 1983. He and his wife, the former Catherine DeMaria, lived for most of their marriage in Smithtown; he moved to North Carolina after she died in 2007.
Scotto is survived by sisters, Rose Ianuzzi of Columbus, New Jersey, and Mary DiColandrea of upstate Nanuet. In addition to son, Michael, survivors include sons, Frank Scotto of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and James Scotto of Southbury, Connecticut; and daughters, Marianna Scotto of Jackson, Michigan, Antonia Scotto Pinckney of Flushing, Queens, and Stephanie Ross, of Davis, California.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Joseph Church in Kings Park on Monday at 10:30 a.m. Burial will follow at Smithtown Cemetery.