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Tonight’s Nutley HS football game moved to Msgr. Owens Field

Due to weather conditions this week and the need to preserve the final stages of construction on the oval, tonight’s Nutley High School home football game has been moved to Monsignor Owens Field 44 Park Ave.,  at 7 p.m.  Admission to the game is […]

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One dead in Lyndhurst shooting

The state Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating a fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen SUV at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border early Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to a press release issued by the AG’s Office. The driver, identified […]

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‘Sober House’ rattles residents

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The corner house at Grand Place and Stewart Ave. doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but it’s drawn a lot of attention from neighbors – and not in a good way. Many packed the assembly chambers at […]

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2nd hotel signals growth

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel. It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New […]

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A harvest of plenty in special garden

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  HARRISON–  Somewhere in Harrison, there is a magical place. If we were telling this story as a fairy tale, it would begin: Once upon a time, there was a small plot of land on which a happy home had stood. […]

 
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More reasons than ever to give thanks this year

Photo by Jim Hague The Kearny cross country team, spearheaded by standouts Aislinn Sroczynski (l.) and Erika Alzamora, give some sportswriters reasons to be thankful.

Photo by Jim Hague
The Kearny cross country team, spearheaded by standouts Aislinn Sroczynski (l.) and Erika Alzamora, give some sportswriters reasons to be thankful.

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

As some of our readers may know – and others may be totally oblivious – I have spent this entire month at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, working diligently to try to get my legs back in working condition.

I’ve had a tough go, battling a rare form of neuropathy that has weakened my legs and caused me to fall countless times since the end of the summer. I fell at Red Bull Arena. I fell at the Prudential Center. I fell hard at a high school football game and landed on my back, temporarily ending my ability to cover sporting events.

After a series of falls, causing the Kearny Fire Department to come to pick me up off the floor and the ground, hospitalization was the only recourse.

So here I’ve stayed, since the beginning of November, working with the great Kessler medical staff to try to get better.

And I have improved immensely. My right leg, which was virtually useless when I arrived, is now a little better than half strength. I am walking upright with the help of a walker and no hint of falling. I’m on the verge of getting my walking papers out of Kessler, more than likely this week.

So yes, I should be home for Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday.

It’s special to me for a lot of reasons.

As a child, Thanksgiving meant going to Pechter’s with my father to get the bread for dinner, then stopping off at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City to see St. Peter’s Prep face Dickinson in their annual gridiron rivalry.

As a teenager, it meant coming home from Marquette University for the first time since the summer and seeing my friends again, then having dinner with my family. It was always such a festive time for me.

So this year, it has a special meaning. I’m coming home. I’m healthy again. I hope I don’t fall.

So I am thankful for a lot of things, but mostly, I’m thankful for the great people that I deal with on a regular basis here with The Observer, namely the athletes, the coaches and the administrators.

I’m thankful for Kearny athletic director John Millar and his dutiful assistant Barbara Brooks, who are always willing to lend a helping hand, every single time I call. Whatever the request, they are there to help, whether it’s getting athletes together for an 8 a.m. photo shoot or getting a kid on the phone to be interviewed.

I’m thankful for Jim Cifelli and the Kearny girls’ cross country team, who get so excited every time I’m around to do a story or a picture. With athletes like Aislinn Sroczynski and Erika Alzamora, energetic, bubbly, wonderful young ladies, how could you go wrong? They’re a joy to write about.

I’m thankful for the entire Rusek family, the first family of West Hudson soccer. Sure, the Harrison boys lost a heartbreaker last week to Newton in the Group II state semifinals, but it was a great season for the Blue Tide.

And two weeks ago, when head coach Mike Rusek told his players about my illness, the team decided to dedicate the game to me — and they won. Where in the world does something like that happen? The Harrison soccer program is not only very good, but they’re very classy at the same time.

I’m thankful for Lyndhurst’s great litany of coaches and administrators, people like Butch Servideo, Joe Castagnetti, Kim Hykey and Tom Shoebridge, who go the extra yard as coaches and also greet me with a glad hand as a friend first and a coach second.

I’m thankful for Kearny football coach Nick Edwards, who I saw as a teenager playing baseball and have watched him grow and develop into a fine young man and a coach.

I’m thankful for the good people of Nutley, like athletic director Joe Piro, soccer coaches Mike DiPiano and Marcellino Marra and football coach Tom Basile, who are also extremely giving of their time to their athletes and then still take the time out to assist a local sportswriter in need.

I’m extremely thankful for the friendship and loyalty showed to me by Queen of Peace athletic guru Ed Abromaitis, the guy who has been through the wringer more than any other wet towel. Abro is constantly willing to assist and make sure that his athletes get the proper recognition.

I’m thankful that QP decided to honor my good friend, the late Ralph Borgess, by naming the practice field outside the school after him. I miss our Sunday morning conversations about football. The coach was the best human being I knew and I’m glad his name will live on now in posterity.

I’m thankful for the North Arlington girls’ soccer coaching staff, namely Sharon O’Brien Romer and her mother, Anne, for taking the time to send me a get well card at Kessler. That was such an amazing display of warmth that I am forever grateful for.

I’m also thankful to the hundreds of local readers who have sent texts, e-mails, messages via Facebook, you name it, wishing me good health. People like Joe Pollari of R&R Sporting Goods, who couldn’t have been more generous with his offers to help. I can’t begin to thank everyone.

I’m thankful for this newspaper, The Observer, for giving me the opportunity to continue to work through my illness. Without having The Observer to motivate me, I might have lost my mind over the last few weeks.

And I’m thankful for my family and friends, who have been so incredibly supportive through this tough time. It’s good to know you have friends when you’re down.

So yes, this is a special Thanksgiving. I’m coming home again. That’s a lot to be thankful for.

Thank you.

Harrison native Walega shines as Rutgers-Newark volleyball leader

Photo courtesy of Rutgers-Newark and Steve Smith Rutgers-Newark senior volleyball standout Paulina Walega of Harrison returns a ball in a recent match. Walega just completed her career as the Scarlet Raiders’ leader in digs. She will graduate with a double major in criminal justice and accounting.

Photo courtesy of Rutgers-Newark and Steve Smith
Rutgers-Newark senior volleyball standout Paulina Walega of Harrison returns a ball in a recent match. Walega just completed her career as the Scarlet Raiders’ leader in digs. She will graduate with a double major in criminal justice and accounting.

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Being the libero on a college volleyball team is a totally thankless job. There’s not a lot of glory and attention. You’re not exactly lighting up the statistical score sheet. You basically have to work hard to make defensive plays to help your team — and not much else.

“It’s really tough,” Rutgers- Newark head women’s volleyball coach Jason Madsen said. “There’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. It takes a special player.”

For the Scarlet Raiders, that special player is senior Paulina Walega, a graduate of Harrison High School.

One of the lone seniors on the Rutgers-Newark women’s volleyball roster this year, Walega was asked to become more of a leader while handling the role of libero.

“She started as a libero for us, but then we moved her to outside hitter,” Madsen said. “We were struggling offensively as a team and Paulina hit the ball well, so we moved her up. But now, we have her back at libero. She’s more comfortable there. Plus, we have so many young players on the court that we need to have someone like Paulina to lead us.”

Walega doesn’t mind handling the responsibility.

“It’s really tough, because everyone relies on you,” Walega said. “I can’t let the team down and I accept that.”

As for being the overlooked libero?

“Everyone can get offensive numbers, but defense saves the games,” Walega said. “I’ve become used to it. It’s really not nerve wracking anymore.”

Walega knew this season that she was going to have to be a leader.

“Being one of the only seniors and with all the young girls coming in, I knew I had to step up,” Walega said. “I actually like it. I like the responsibility and I like the role. On the court, I have to be the one to make sure that everyone doesn’t get nervous. I basically have to be like the coach on the floor. I have to make sure that no one gets down and everyone stays focused.”

According to Madsen, Walega takes that role one step further.

“She has to be the one who has the ‘team first’ mentality,” Madsen said. “It’s so important to have a strong libero, because if you do, you have a chance to make the plays and put the whole offense in motion. She definitely does that. She’s also in position to develop the younger players, like she’s the coach out there on the floor. She’s taken the role and accepted the role of being the leader.”

Walega led the Scarlet Raiders in digs with 290 and had 14 service aces.

“That’s what we were looking for,” Madsen said. “We needed someone to take charge. We’re so happy to have Paulina, because through her efforts, everyone now looks at her as the leader, both on and off the court. The libero is a thankless position. Everyone goes to a volleyball match, looking to see the high fliers and hard hitters. The libero is not noticed unless you don’t do your job. It’s all about defense. Having the libero like Paulina is a big help for us.”

Madsen also loves Walega’s personality.

“She has a great attitude and she’s a lot of fun to be around,” Madsen said. “If she’s playing well in the beginning and gets everyone going, it’s all good for us.”

Walega has always liked to be the one to get others going.

“I try to be as supportive as possible,” Walega said. “I can’t play if I feel a negative vibe. So I have to keep the positive attitude.”

Walega is a student/athlete in the truest sense. She has a double major in criminal justice and accounting and will eventually graduate with more than 150 accumulated credits.

“It’s really not that hard,” Walega said. “It’s all a matter of how I spend my time. I guess I just tend to spend it wisely.”

It is a unique double major for sure.

“Everyone says that,” Walega said. “They all ask what I’m going to do with those two majors. I just kind of wanted to do both and I want to do something with both, maybe insurance fraud or white collar crime.”

There’s only one downside to Walega being a senior.

“I just wish she had more time to work with our young players,” Madsen said. “She’s doing well and has such a great attitude. I was so happy to have a player like Paulina in our program.”

“Volleyball and school work is basically all the same,” Walega said. “As long as you have the same mentality, then it’s fine. Having a good attitude is all you need to have. I always want to have the same mentality that you need to succeed.”

Sure looks Walega has her life after volleyball all in place.

Obituaries

Mary M. Adesso

Mary M. Adesso died on Nov. 20 in Toms River. She was 90. Born in Newark, she lived many years in North Arlington.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home with burial in Glendale Cemetery. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Wife of the late Louis, she is survived by her children and their spouses Valerie Sauer, Louis and Eileen Adesso and Donna and Mike Derewianyk. Sister of Millie Niagara she is also survived by six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and her special son Michael Matthews. She was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church Altar Guild in Harrison.

In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Minnie De Trolio

Minnie De Trolio (nee Fucetola) died Nov. 22 at home. She was 93. Born in Newark, she lived in Kearny since 1973.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny, followed by private cremation. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Minnie was the wife of the late Daniel De Trolio and is survived by her children Daniel, Joseph and David De Trolio, Genevieve Wood and Barbara Ann Herbert. Sister of Joseph and James Fucetola and Genevieve Cugini, she is also survived by 13 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation to the Wounded Warriors Project.

Dennis C. Mazol

Dennis C. Mazol died on Nov. 20. He was 68.

Born in Jersey City, he lived in Harrison and Kearny before moving to Barnegat four years ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in St. Cecilia’s Church and private cremation followed. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Dennis was a laborer for the Town of Kearny.

Husband of the late Judy (nee Berk), he is survived by his children and their spouses David and Kathleen Mazol, Janice and Robert Belbol, Daniel and Mandyjane Mazol, and Caryn and Ken Smith. He was brother of Elayne Mazol, Connie Gerstenmaier, Stephen Mazol, Michele Witko and the late Christine Horne. Also surviving are his grandchildren Cynthia, Shane, Brian, Haleigh, Erin, Kristoffer, Jared, Robert, Brendan, Kyle, Colin, Sawyer, Garrett, Finley and Mckenna. He was predeceased by his daughter Susan.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to The Wounded Warriors Project.

Orthodontic nightmare steals shrimp (and other Nutley PD blotter items)

He wanted a job but in the end, he settled for supper.

That was the gist of an unusual incident reported to Nutley Police on Nov. 9.

Police said they were called to a Kingsland St. eatery at 10:28 p.m. on a report of theft.

There, the eatery representative told them that a man with three teeth, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants, walked into the kitchen seeking employment earlier that evening.

When the man was told that no one was available then to speak to him, the man grabbed a bag containing 100 shrimp and a dozen lobster tails and left the restaurant.

Police said the stolen food was valued at $100.

No further information was available about the accused thief or which way he went when he departed the eatery, police said.

Police said the restaurant didn’t immediately contact police because the restaurant was busy. Read more »

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Harrison police investigate stolen car (and other blotter items)

Nov. 16

Police received reports of two vehicles being stolen and a third tampered with.

At 12:03 p.m., the owner of a 2010 Nissan Maxima called police to say that he’d parked his car on Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. South on Nov. 14 and when he returned, two days later, at noon, it was gone.

The owner of a 2008 black Cadillac Escalade told police he’d parked his car in the Franklin Ave. municipal lot at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 and when he returned at 4:45 a.m. the next day, he discovered it had vanished.

And, at 7:41 a.m., a patrol officer saw a 2003 Cadillac Escalade, parked at Harrison and Davis Aves., with its driver’s side window smashed. Further checking revealed that it had a broken shift lever. Police notified the owner who told them he’d parked the car on the north side of Harrison Ave. at 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 15. Nothing appeared to be missing from the car, police said.

Read more »

50 years ago: A death in Dallas

 

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This Friday is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. That year, as this, Nov. 22 was a Friday. The first edition of The Observer after the tragedy would not appear until Nov. 26.

By then, the nation, the world, had spent nearly a week in mourning and were transfixed by nonstop news coverage of the killing and its aftermath, including the apprehension and subsequent slaying (on live TV) of Lee Harvey Oswald; the arrival back in Washington of Jacqueline Kennedy, still wearing her bloodstained pink suit; thousands paying their respects at JFK’s coffin at the Capitol; his state funeral (modeled after Abraham Lincoln’s), and the interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

All the details were known. Thus, The Observer stories were simple round-ups focused on local reaction. (Unfortunately, there were no bylines.)

The paper had contacted political and religious leaders in the communities it covered in 1963 (Kearny, Harrison, East Newark and North Arlington). We have excerpted some of the quotes. But first, some context:

Kennedy was the first Catholic to be elected President, a stunning achievement in those days because he had faced religious bigotry that would be unthinkable now. He was also a champion of the nascent civil rights movement in a time when racial prejudice and segregation prevailed.

For a personal remembrance of that long-ago day, we have enlisted as guest columnist longtime Kearny resident Msgr. John Gilchrist. His column can be found on p. 6.

– Karen Zautyk

Community Stunned by Assassination

Memorial or requiem services held by churches of all faiths

The community of West Hudson and North Arlington was stunned into disbelief when the first radio and TV bulletins announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot while riding in the Presidential limousine in a Dallas, Texas, motorcade early Friday afternoon.

Many at home and others on the street rushed to churches of their faith to offer prayers for the President’s life. Later, when it was certain the assassin’s bullet had been fatal, more and more local residents turned local residents turned to God at home and in church to pray for the soul of the martyred President and easing of the grief of his family.

Tears welled in the eyes of the prayerful, a majority of whom were among the community’s younger people who made no effort to hide their shock and grief.

In keeping with proclamations by President Johnson, Mayors Joseph M. Healey, Kearny; Frank E. Rodgers, Harrison; Harold Larsen, East Newark; and Peter R. Tonner, North Arlington, industries, stores, supermarkets, business and professional offices, taverns, service stations, municipal offices, druggists and practically every type of endeavor were closed part or all yesterday in a national day of mourning for the late President.

The first of memorial services for the slain President was at Congregation B’nai Israel, Kearny, where the usual Friday evening Sabbath service was devoted to prayers for the late President, his wife, family and for divine guidance for the new President.

Many Catholic and Protestant churches held brief memorial services Saturday and clergy of all denominations Sunday from the pulpit eulogized the courageous leadership of President Kennedy and led prayers for the comforting of a bereaved family and nation.

Memorial services for the late President were sponsored yesterday by the West Hudson Council of Churches in Grace Methodist Church at 10:30 a.m.

Requiem Masses were offered yesterday morning or evening in the Roman Catholic churches in West Hudson and North Arlington.

Sgt. William Sawelson Post, VFW, Harrison, will hold memorial services Sunday at 1 p.m., at the War Memorial, Roosevelt Park, South Fourth Street. The public is invited.

Shock, Grief, Prayers!

What was the reaction of our community’s leaders and clergy to the tragic death of President John F. Kennedy shortly after noon last Friday?

The Observer sought and thanks the mayors of the community’s four municipalities and its clergy for the following expressions of the shock, grief and future hopes associated with the assassination of our universally respected and admired Chief Executive.

Mayor Joseph M. Healey: “The residents of Kearny, along with the peoples of the world, are stunned and grief-stricken in the tragic death of the President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

“All regardless of political affiliation and religious faith are outraged at the assassination…. His death has brought sadness to each home and is felt as keenly as if we had lost a beloved member of our family.”

Mayor Frank E. Rodgers of Harrison: “Individually and collectively, the people of Harrison, our country and the entire world have lost a great and courageous leader. … His tragic death leaves me shocked and stunned beyond expression.”

Mayor Peter R. Tonner, North Arlington: “The people of North Arlington, of all religious faiths and political allegiance, were equally shocked, bewildered dazed and indignant in the senseless assassination of our beloved President . . . President Kennedy’s tragic death is a personal loss to every American….”

Mayor Harold Larsen, East Newark: “Words cannot express my feeling of unbelief that even a distorted mind could create a motive for the brutal assassination . . . . Every American has suffered a loss that may well be felt by succeeding generations….. Our prayers are that God, in His own way, will assuage the grief and loss … and guide our new President and our nation through one of the most trying times in its history.”

Rev. Howard W. McFall Jr., First Presbyterian Church of Arlington: “I am deeply shaken by the tragic death of our President. He was a man of unquestioned conviction and courage who overcame the religious barrier to become the great leader of us all. The course of freedom has lost one of its greatest modern defenders….”

Rev. Joseph A. Carroll, St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny: “Friday, while we were commemorating the feast of a great martyr, St. Cecilia, our patroness, shocking and stirring news reached us that our beloved President…had been assassinated. He, too, became a martyr on this day because he had the courage to fight and to campaign for his convictions and beliefs — freedom for all peoples.”

Rev. Leopold Schneider Jr., Davis Memorial Methodist Church, Harrison: “Shock turned to outrage at the enormity of the crime. Then grief and bewilderment drove us to prayer . . . prayer that the President’s family should be sustained in their deep sorrow… that God will give wisdom and strength to our new President and guide our beloved nation through this difficult time.”

Rev. Albert H. Beemer, Grace Methodist Church, Kearny: “I had read of Presidents Lincoln and McKinley being assassinated, but I somehow felt we had matured as a nation to where this could not and would not again happen…. May each of us be united by Friday’s tragedy that our nation shall be stronger in faith and good works than ever before.”

Rev. Philip H. Peterson, First Lutheran Church, Kearny: “A nation has lost a great President and a dynamic leader. And yet, has it? For if we wish to truly mourn this untimely passing, we must seek to fulfill his high ideals . . . .”

Rabbi Sidney M. Bogner, Congregation B’nai Israel, Kearny: “The senseless and wanton act that widowed a young wife, orphaned two children, bereaved his family, impoverished our country and saddened the world reminds us that we still need guidance and prayer before we can truly achieve a civilized status….”

Msgr. LeRoy McWilliams, Queen of Peace, North Arlington: “The sudden death … descended upon all of us like a thunderclap and plunged not only our own country but the whole world into mourning… [The Kennedy] assassination is the great tragedy of our time.”

Rev. Stanley C. Tiller, First Methodist Church of Arlington: “I was riding in Kearny Ave. en route to West Hudson Hospital, when a voice coming over my car radio announced, ‘The President has been shot.’ Then followed . . . the announcement that [he] had been killed by an assassin’s bullet. The emotional impact was stunning . . . By midafternoon, the church telephone began to ring.

“Voices, choked with emotion, asked if the church might be opened for prayer. This was done immediately, and dazed and shocked people made their way to church to pray.”

Rev. Robert C.W. Ward, Trinity Episcopal Church, Kearny: “Every citizen who takes public office offers his being for his country. It is the privilege of only a few to give their lives. . . . John F. Kennedy had already counted the cost. Tragic as it is, in his death we see the glory of our democracy — to be effective, it requires our all.”

Msgr. Adrian A. Maine, St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny: “… the memory of Mr. Kennedy . . . should spur us into renewed efforts for a national atmosphere of mutual understanding, forebearance, justice and right reason — and thus bring an end to prejudice, bigotry and hatred, which begets deeds of violence.”

Rev. William J. Hausmann, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Harrison: [President Kennedy] was a casualty in the battle against the forces of tyranny, injustice and inequality among men. He lived and died heroically.”

Rev. Arthur F. Thurber, First Baptist Church of Arlington: “The hours of utter shock and grief are still with us. Never have so many persons felt such a tragic loss so deeply and personally. This great soul who challenged us with the stirring words, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,’ has himself given the full measure.”

Rev. Hedley Jenkins, Christ Episcopal Church, Harrison: “I am shocked that such a deed was possible by what I regard as inadequate security and too easy possession of firearms. … Until the church succeeds in ironing out this violent streak in the national life, the U.S. will never achieve her proper and rightful stature in the eyes of the rest of the world….”

Rev. Michael F. Calabrese, St. Anthony’s Church, East Newark: “In the passing of this great man we recall the great causes he espoused and defended. His help to the oppressed, the lowly and the aged enkindled within us a greater dedication to our country.”

(Editor’s note: For space reasons, we have had to excerpt some quotes rather than printing them in full. Likewise we could not use every statement provided in the original text.)

Juneau Memorial Center dedicated

Photos by Ron Leir LEFT: Kevin Barry shows his dad’s Federal Shipyard photo ID. RIGHT: Mary Muldoon (l.) and Kathy Perry were among relatives of the 20 Hudson County victims who attended last week’s ceremony.

Photos by Ron Leir
LEFT: Kevin Barry shows his dad’s Federal Shipyard photo ID. RIGHT: Mary Muldoon (l.) and Kathy Perry were among relatives of the 20 Hudson County victims who attended last week’s ceremony.

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

Seventy-one years from the day it was torpedoed by a Japanese sub and sunk, killing all but 10 members of its nearly 700-member crew – including the five Sullivan brothers – during the Battle of Guadalcanal, the USS Juneau was remembered last Wednesday with Hudson County’s dedication of a newly refurbished warehouse in part of the former Federal Shipyard complex in south Kearny as a permanent memorial to the ship and its victims.

The memorial, comprising a model of the Juneau, copies of letters written by the crew to loved ones and friends back home, vintage photos of the shipyard and the Juneau’s launching and other memorabilia collected by the county and relatives of the crew, will share space with various county offices.

Numerous county and local officials, area veterans and relatives of some of the 20 sailors from Hudson County who were among those who perished attended last week’s dedication of the USS Juneau Memorial Center.

Among the invited guests was a visitor from Juneau, Alaska, for which the ship was named. Randy Wanamaker, a local assemblyman and former deputy mayor, said that when the ship was commissioned, his mother, Eunice, was one of many locals who participated in a fundraising drive led by the fire company and “collected dimes” used to purchase a silver setting and other items” intended for use on the cruiser.

A bit later, Wanamaker said, his mom morphed into “Rosie the Riveter,” helping out the war effort by doing factory labor while his dad served with the 3rd Infantry Division, seeing combat throughout the European Theater.

Wanamaker told the crowd that packed the enormous exhibition space, that in concert with the special recognition being accorded the ship and its crew in New Jersey, the mayor of Juneau had “proclaimed this day as Juneau Remembrance Day.”

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said the shipyard’s legacy carried a “powerful resonance” in the West Hudson town, given that more than 300 ships – including the 6,000-ton Juneau cruiser – were “built and launched on the Hackensack River” from the 175-acre complex for 32 years until its closing in 1949.

At the peak of its operations, the shipyard employed nearly 30,000 civilian workers, many of whom lived in Kearny, who turned out “an average of one destroyer launched every 13 days,” Santos said.

The Juneau tragedy in 1942, in which 687 sailors perished, was “amongst the darkest days of the war for the community and the country,” Santos said, and represented “the greatest mass casualty since the start of the war.”

Left photo by Ron Leir; right photo courtesy County of Hudson LEFT: Juneau Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker. RIGHT: USS Juneau at Brooklyn Navy Yard for fi nal readiness before combat mission in the Pacifi c.

Photo by Ron Leir
Elected officials, county employees, veterans and members of the public filled the newly renovated Warehouse 77 to remember those who gave their lives on the USS Juneau.

 

“This building is a fitting tribute to their sacrifice [and will be] a permanent visible monument to honor their memory,” he added.

Santos credited Kearny Museum Committee member Donald Moss with coming up with the idea of naming the building for the Juneau after discovering that six of the dead sailors were from Kearny. Kearny residents Norman Rutan, Paul Shalvoy and Pete DeMonte aided dedication committee chair Joann Northgrave with additional research.

John Gomez, a local architectural historian who extensively researched the shipyard’s history, told the audience that the original Warehouse 77 was built between 1917 and 1918 in the style of the then new “skyscraper” construction and was part of Federal Shipyard’s 175-acre campus which remains intact today.

Part of his research included reading selections of the Juneau crew’s correspondence, donated by relatives, and Gomez quoted an excerpt from a letter from Jersey City sailor George Muldoon who had enlisted to avenge the death of a friend stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Muldoon’s sister Mary Muldoon, of Colonia, and her niece Kathy Perry, of Lake Hopatcong, were among the several hundred guests who came for the ceremony.

Mary Muldoon, who was 4 when her brother was lost at sea, said her brother was just 17 when he enlisted in the Navy. “My mother was not too happy and my dad was upset,” she said. After the attack on the Juneau, Mary said that information about her brother was hard to come by. “First we got a letter from the Navy saying that he was missing,” she said, and sometime later, “we got another letter signed by President Franklin Roosevelt telling us there was no hope of recovery.”

Perry recalled that her brother Philip had written to the Navy trying to learn more about George’s fate only to be informed at the time that was “classified” information. Since then, there have been published accounts of the attack on Juneau and other U.S. ships.

From the Juneau, George Muldoon wrote home when he could. His last letter, sent to an older brother Jerome, asked how Roselle Park High School fared against archrival Roselle High in the teams’ annual football game, Mary said, harking back to the time the Muldoons had had lived in Roselle Park before moving to Jersey City.

Last week’s event was particularly moving for Kevin Barry, Hudson County deputy director of roads and public property, whose dad, Edward Thomas Barry, worked at the shipyard from 1937 to 1944 after graduating from Jersey City’s Ferris High School, and then joined the Marines.

“He was a pipefitter and he contracted mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos at the shipyard,” Barry said. His dad was 58 when he died.

Left photo by Ron Leir; right photo courtesy County of Hudson LEFT: Juneau Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker. RIGHT: USS Juneau at Brooklyn Navy Yard for final readiness before combat mission in the Pacific.

Left photo by Ron Leir; right photo courtesy County of Hudson
LEFT: Juneau Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker. RIGHT: USS Juneau at Brooklyn Navy Yard for final readiness before combat mission in the Pacific.

 

Much later, Kevin Barry – in his county position – found himself being called on to help restore Building 77. Despite the bittersweet nature of his dad’s experience, Barry said: “It’s been a labor of love renovating this building.”

And that job, according to County Executive Tom De- Gise, was quite a struggle. The structure had fallen into disrepair ever since the Navy turned it over to the county following WWII demobilization.

“Eleven years ago, when I first went there to check it out, the place was filled with seagulls,” DeGise said. It was being use for storage of supplies for the county jail jail and its inmates. Under a partlyexposed roof, DeGise recalled, “there were stacks of underwear, toothbrushes and the rest of the place was strewn with debris, but in a space that was big as an airplane hangar. We decided we should be doing something productive with it.”

So in July 2010, the county – using $28 million in federal and county funds – undertook “a complete gut rehabilitation” of the 80,000 square foot building, explained John Delutis, the county’s assistant to the director of roads and public property. “The only part of the original building remaining is the steel structure.”

At the time, Delutis was in the private sector, working as the project’s construction manager, in tandem with general contractor Dobko Inc., of Wayne, and architect Musial Group, of Mountainside.

The renovated building now boasts 60-foot-high bays, a new façade, and various energy efficiency installations: a 400-foot-deep geo-thermal well for heating and cooling, a roof-top 84 KW electrical unit, a wind turbine to generate power and a 10,000-gallon rain water harvesting tank for recycling and an aluminum exterior configured with translucent polypanels and inflated ponds allows sunlight directly into the building, Delutis said.

Then, in 2012, superstorm Sandy struck, flooding the building and compromising electrical, mechanical and fire protection systems. So the county had to spend an additional $3 million on repairs, including raising the building’s elevation out of the flood zone, said Delutis.

Now, at long last, it’s ready for occupants.

Aside from the Juneau Memorial, the county is installing these units:

The Office of Emergency Management command center will occupy 5,000 square feet of mezzanine level and OEM vehicles and equipment (water tankers, Hi-Los, boats, generators, etc.) will be stored in a 15,000 square foot garage space on the first floor.

The Prosecutor’s Office will maintain a climate-controlled records and evidence storage center in a 15,000 square foot space.

And the Corrections Department will use 45,000 square feet on the first floor to store supplies and to house its Internal Affairs unit, work release staff and other personnel.

Juneau crew members from Hudson County who perished were identified by the county as: Kearny residents Adrian Cahill, Earl Hall, Thomas Kane, George Willoughby, Raymond Phillips and Wilbur Wood; Harrison residents Thomas Beers, Andrew E. Welsh, William Meeker and James Seramba; Jersey City residents John Hermans, Benjamin Lipowski, George Muldoon, Kenneth Satterfield, Roy Taylor and Walter Zubos; North Bergen resident William Davidson Jr., Union City resident Timothy Hardwick, and Bayonne residents James Mooney and Joe Selobyt.

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