The NYU community lost a vital member over fall break. John “Johnnie” Votta, better known to NYU students as the Timekeeper, passed away in his apartment of natural causes and was found on Monday night. According to longtime friend Roland Velez, Votta’s health had been deteriorating for some time. He was reportedly 70 years old.
“He was always looking to help people out,” said Gilbert del Tozo, the friend and beneficiary of Votta. Del Tozo and Velez both manage the entrance of residential building 49 W. 12th Street where Votta would stop by on a daily basis. “He was a real neighborhood guy,” said Del Tozo. The men were close with Votta, and it was Velez who discovered his death.
“I hadn’t heard from him in a while and I knew his health had been deteriorating since the Beth Israel incident,” said Velez. “It’s been getting colder, and I assumed John holed himself up in his apartment. When he didn’t answer his phone — which I convinced him to get for safety reasons — I started getting worried.”
“He didn’t want anything in return from anyone,” said Roland Velez, a doorman who befriended Votta. “He just wanted to be recognized and appreciated.”