John Patrick Amato Jr., of Jersey City, New Jersey, passed away Sunday, June 25, 2023, after an 18-month fight with two different cancers: a rare nasopharynx cancer and a glioblastoma brain tumor. He was 59 years old.
Born December 2, 1963, John grew up in Seaside Heights, but Jersey City was the place he called home. He started his dog walking business in Downtown JC in 2005, quickly becoming one of the most sought-after dog walkers in town (with a waitlist to prove it). To his clients, John was extremely dependable, organized, and generous with his time, often going above and beyond what anyone expected. To his community, John was known for showering ALL the pups with pure love. It did not matter if he walked your dog or not, John was spreading love to all and receiving it in kind – usually with multiple pups licking his face in a frenzy of joy! Dogs loved John more than any other human, including their owners.
And with John’s larger-than-life personality, he could not help but attract attention wherever he went. Whether he was shirtless and showing off his abs or bundled up in layers of sweats for winter, you could recognize John a mile away with his signature mismatched sneakers, a group of doggies in tow and him greeting all the dogs and humans of Jersey City and Van Vorst Park alike. He was such a beloved fixture of the community that Jersey City’s Van Vorst Dog Run was recently named in his honor.
John loved to work out and kept himself in impeccable shape. After 10 long hours of walking dogs, he would go home to lift weights before showering and dressing up to the 9’s in his Tom Ford sunglasses for a night on the town. No point in hiding his good body; he worked hard to look the way he did. John also loved coaching gymnastics to kids on the weekends, and hardly a day would pass without tennis on the television.
John loved to travel, not so much to see the world but to connect with friends anywhere he could stay tan. You probably heard him talk about taking the train to Philly, flying to see his boys in Ohio, or going Down the Shore to visit his peeps. He used points to travel or upgrade to first-class because he was smart with his money. Have travel plans? Tell him the airline and flight number, and John would tell you the best seat to book for your travels. John loved traveling so much – the human connection and the ability to see the world – that he even signed up to become a flight attendant! He soared through training with flying colors, flag waved high, until the end when it came time for the exam. It was the last step in the process, and our dear John didn’t pass. He only recently discovered he suffered from dyslexia, which made learning and test taking that much harder. One industry’s loss was our community’s gain.
Always polite with “please” and “thank you,” John was loyal to those in his circle, often saying “I’ve got your back and you’ve got my back.” Some talents he kept secret, like his beautiful voice and keen skills at the pool table. One never knew a pool shark was lurking behind that great physique, bald head, and bright white smile! He was an incredible singer with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop lyrics and artists. Fitting that he passed away on George Michael’s birthday, also the same day that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died – he was a fan of all three.
John was a force of nature and prided himself on telling it like it is. He made friends quickly, absolutely everywhere, and under any circumstance. That’s because he was also a cheerleader and biggest supporter as many business owners and friends will attest. You couldn’t help but have a good laugh around John with his constant one-liners and quick wit! His unfaltering sense of humor and astounding perseverance carried him through so many difficult times.
Even though John had a very tough life, he was brimming with unparalleled gratitude for the love of his friends, pups and the community he was so happy to be a part of for over 30 years.
John would like to thank everyone who rallied around him and this cancer journey (JC Strong); his Memorial Sloan Kettering doctors, nurses and staff, without whom John would never have survived the last 18 months; his version of Charlie’s Angels that he coined “Johnny’s Angels,” a group of 20+ strong women who selflessly had his back every step of the way; and his caretaker Barbara, who was with him in the end and provided the comfort and love he so desperately needed and craved.
A great man with incredible light, kind beyond measure, a beacon of love, a self-made man and a selfless man, a fighter until his very last breath, John will be truly missed. He gave a good fight, now resting in peace, eating his favorite cookies and candies with a Prosecco in hand, surrounded by all his long-lost pups, especially his boy Eddie. His parting words were, “I want to make peace with all the people I love.”
John always wanted a party when he transitioned, so it makes sense that he passed away on Pride Sunday.
A celebration of life will be announced shortly.