Columbus Ross Trentacosti- Artist, bon vivant, friend, and so much more

Columbus Ross Trentacosti- Artist, bon vivant, friend, and so much more

My friend Ross Trent

My friend Ross Trentacosti

My dear friend Columbus Ross Trentacosti  passed away in his sleep at 5 PM today.  He was 93 years old. There is NO sadness in his passing. I only smile at the memory of a man who was my friend, mentor, tennis coach, dad, and  a hell of a lot of fun when I met him 47 years ago.

 I was looking forward to seeing him next week.The last time i saw him a few months ago he was healthy and happy, and we had a wonderful visit. The nursing staff was very kind to Ross

He had a full life, filled with lots of friends, beautiful paintings that he made, travels throughout Europe, and a lovely old farmhouse he made into his home and studio.  The enduring memory we leave in a life is the impression we make on other people and Ross’s gift to me was, “Be 100% who you are!”  He was never shy about who he was and as I  sit here in Vermont and reflect on my dear friend, i am joyful in the way that he profoundly influenced my life with great love and care.

I am  very grateful for the NJ Veterans Home who provided him a terrific place to live for the past two years. He said, “The food is good, the people are very kind and I have friends here.”

My friend, fellow tennis junkie, artist, bon vivant – Columbus Ross Trentacosti.  I love you!

Here is part of a letter i had written to him, a few years ago. I had also just finished editing my new book “Celebrate Life: Viva La Vida” and I had dedicated it to him
 My Letter to him in 2013
“…What is most important… is the positive impact you had on me in my life. With your quirky joi de vivre, your insistence on being yourself, your great capacity to enjoy life, your paintings and your love of nature. I had been so inspired by this. I remember most was your great kindness and acceptance of me when I was a teen and beyond.
       When I first met you at the age of 15, you were the first adult who truly was interested in ME. We played tennis together, had lunch or dinner together. We went to tennis matches and we played a lot of tennis! I still have the tennis birthday card on my wall that you gave me some 45 years ago. Though I could enumerate more, I remember well this time from when I was about 15 to 17. Though you were very busy with your life, art, frame shop, and having fun… I am profoundly grateful for the time we had together.
        Even after that, when I came back to New jersey, when I needed a place to stay you welcomed me. When my car was in an accident without hesitation you loaned me the yellow van. I remember you for the many acts of kindness and generosity.
       I am also a classical guitarist and musician, though I have not been performing lately I have been thoroughly enjoying playing the guitar over these past 20 years. You had inspired me to play music with your love of classical music and also in your playing of the cello.
       I remember as a teen and first hearing classical music at your house, it was a Vivaldi in a minor. Thank you for opening my mind and spirit to classical music.
       To this day, I am so grateful for all the places you took me when I was a teen. We went to the U.S. Open in Forest Hills. I remember the Eastern grass Court Tournament. One time we went to an event with Poncho Gonzales. Also, we went to the big tennis match at Madison Square Garden between Rod Laver and Kenny Rosewall. I loved all the time that we play tennis together and I appreciated your patience in teaching me how to play. So many wonderful memories of Eastside Park in Patterson, and other places that we had played.
      What I remember most is the great love and care you took with me. This lesson of love and kindness has remained with me through all these years.
      As an artist, and you will be surprised by this, over the past  years I have been showing my artwork and it has been presented at galleries and public spaces. I had shown some of my work in Mexico as well. This winter I’ve been invited to go to Chile to do not art and performance project commemorating the 40th anniversary of the coup d’état. I remember the first art lessons with you, waiting for breakfast at House of Pancakes, and on the back of napkins you would teach me how to draw.
So, my dear friend and mentor, I have a river of memories of your great kindness, your inspiration, your joie de vivre, and your ebullient personality . Thank you for all the love and inspiration over the years”
Market of Paris 1951

Pastures of France


“Vermont Winter Scene” by Ross Trent


Ross in Hollywood in 1959

Basement 1946 RT

Basement in 1946

A1 Handome Soldier 1944

1944 Ross Trentacosti before heading to Europe and the Battle of the Bulge


  1. MaryAnn Villano says:

    I want to thank you for the beautiful words spoken about my Uncle Ross. I am just sad that we never got to see that side of him. He never showed much care for the family . I did spend some time trying to help him with his neighbors I was a realtor then. There wasn’t much we could do for him. I tried to get him in touch with a attorney friend of mine. I then bought a painting from him that I loved very much. It was the lady in the window. He called me and said he wanted it back for an art show and he promised to bring it back. I reluctingly agreed. I soon found out that he went to all the family and took back everything that he gave them. A lot of them were very personal. It was very hurtful to all. To the family they were very important. I sent a email to your wife about buying the painting back. I see it is now on the website. Do you think that would be possible?

    • My Dear Mary Ann,
      I am sorry it took so long to respond to you. Ross was very bipolar, manic depressive, and I loved him dearly. He was also paranoid. He wound up pushing all the people who loved and cared for him out of his life. It was very sad. When Ross was younger he was great fun and a great friend, but the mental illness overshadowed his life. What a tragedy. Some of his earliest paintings showed such great promise, but he could not harness his talents.

      If you want a painting, let me know. I have about 25 or so. I will be happy to give it to you. Ross did not have a will. I would be so happy to give you and all your family the paintings, as long as you keep them in your homes. I will be back in the USA in November, and back in NY area in December and can give you which ever painting you like. It would be a joy to distribute the paintings to the family. Also, whoever had the paintings he took back, let them know as well.

      Who are your parents? I probably had met them years ago? I may have even met you years ago? He loved his family and we went over to the house of a number of his cousins and family when I was younger. I had met Ross’s brothers Gene, and Joe. I had met his mother. I was friendly with Sally, Joey and his sister who had passed away

      Ross pushed me out of his life years ago. He thought I wanted something from him and I explained I wanted nothing. I tried to take him back to France as a gift, but by then it was too late.
      He was a beautiful but deeply troubled soul. And a few years back I got a call from Joey Hertel his nephew. Ross had also pushed Joey away. That is the nature of mental illness. As I had said, Ross was in deplorable condition, living in the house that was falling down around him. Joey could or would not get him into a nursing home. I finally called for a Psych emergency and got him admitted to Bergen Pines, and then eventually the Veterans home in Paramus.

      He was very happy at the Veterans Home. It was strange we could hold conversations in French or Italian (he mostly spoke Sicilian). But he remembered very little.

      Yes, I reluctantly took as many of the paintings out of the house that I could. Some were damaged, others destroyed. I save as much as I could. Restored some of them. And also, framed those I could. I had tried to get a show of his work in Garfield or at the Bergen Country Museum, but I could not.

      We are traveling in Europe and Georgia, Armenia, but let us be in touch and work on this. I wanted to write an Obituary for the papers, and this is the closest I could come to it.

      So, let us remember, this incredibly talented person, Columbus Ross Trentacosti, and yes, despite the mental illness, I remember the very kind, gentle, person who was a terrific artist and friend to us.

      Mille Grazie

      T NAMAYA and Zoe

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