April 3, 2007 by

Marc Torsilieri

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Categories: Business

Marc Frank Torsilieri, the lumberjack who found, felled and assembled the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree each year, died on March 12 of pancreatic cancer. He was 48.
Born in Morristown, N.J., Torsilieri graduated from Delhi College of Technology with a degree in horticulture. He and his brothers, Guy and Dean, operated Torsilieri Inc., a landscaping firm their father, Carl, opened in 1968.
For more than a quarter century, Torsilieri and other big tree experts would spend the fall looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Torsilieri preferred the Norway spruce, a tree that can exceed 80 feet in height and weigh 8 tons. Once the ideal tree was located, it would be cut down, transported and installed in front of Rockefeller Center in New York City.
The transportation process was not easy. Torsilieri and his crew would have to delicately fold the branches inward to avoid breakage during the ride into Manhattan. The tree would then be conveyed on a tractor-trailer and accompanied by a police escort. Upon the tree’s arrival in the city, Torsilieri would help decorate it with 30,000 lights and a 550-pound star.
The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was installed by construction workers in 1931. Today more than 10 million visitors view the majestic tree during the holiday season. A televised concert to mark the tree’s lighting also exposed the rest of the country to Torsilieri’s handiwork.
Torsilieri was an avid sportsman and a member of the Amwell Valley Hounds and the Reaville Sportsman Association. A New York City Master Rigger, he also moonlighted as a mover of large sculptures for area museums.

3 Responses to Marc Torsilieri

  1. christofer calabrese

    a great man who appreciated everything that life had to offer. no one will ever forget you uncle marc.

  2. Michael Bellantoni

    I met Mark 1 time many years ago, and came accross his death doing a search on the web.
    I was floored.
    I will always remember a smiling bearded man diggin through a pile of mulch looking for a tree stake. (He found it)

  3. Ginny Pierce

    I worked for Torsilieri for several years back in the 1990s. Marc was commonly known as the jovial brother. Whenever he walked into the office or shop, he was boisterous, fun-loving, and always a big heart. A construction project manager myself, the Rockefeller Christmas tree continues to my most favorite project, and of course, Marc is an integral part of that story.
    My condolences to his family. Fond memories of Marc are forever lit in my mind and each year the Christmas tree in NYC will serve as a reminder.
    Until we meet again …

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