An overwhelming sense of loss.
That was the obvious sentiment that prevailed at the Jan. 10 meeting of the Kearny municipal body.
In place of the normal comradery that typically leads up to the mayor and council taking up the regular business of government was instead silence and a uniformly somber mood.
A mute but emphatic explanation of the prevailing tone of the evening was the purple memorial bunting draped over the council dais in front of the empty seat normally occupied by Second Ward Councilman Jonathan “Jon” Giordano.
Giordano, 50, an affable member of the council serving his first term as one of representatives of the Second Ward, died this past Saturday while parked outside his family cabinetry, furniture and countertop manufacturing business on Arlington Ave.
Flags at all municipal buildings were lowered to half-staff last week in tribute to the lawmaker who was waked Jan. 13 from the Armitage & Wiggins Funeral Home, Kearny.
After calling for a moment of silence prior to the start of last week’s meeting, Mayor Alberto Santos labeled Giordano’s death as a “tragic [and] substantial loss,” and said that the councilman would be remembered as someone who was “a firm believer in putting Kearny first at all times.”
At the same time, the mayor added, Giordano was dedicated to his family.
Other council members voiced their appreciation for their colleague’s virtues.
First Ward Councilman Albino Cardoso said: “I’m going to miss him. Rest in peace, my friend.”
His remarks were echoed by fellow First Ward representative Marytrine DeCastro and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Susan McCurrie who offered “deepest condolences.”
Third Ward lawmaker Carol Jean Doyle credited Giordano for having “added a business sense, professionalism and clear thinking” to the council’s deliberations.
For Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Landy, the absent lawmaker “was one of those guys who, once you get to know him, you think you’ve known him for 20 years. He was a good guy, a good man.”
And fellow Third Ward representative Eileen Eckel, picking up on the uncharacteristic pervasive gloom, noted that was a reflection of “the intensity of the individual that isn’t here anymore.”
Council members and the audience were reminded that it was Giordano who could always be counted on for a big chuckle or happy observation that would bring a welcome, infectious good spiritedness to the evening’s proceedings.
But it was Councilman Richard Konopka, who, as Giordano’s fellow Second Ward representative, offered a moving eulogy to his fallen comrade which he delivered haltingly, suppressing tears as he spoke.
“I have a prepared speech,” he said. “I’ll try to get through this.”
“As we get older in life,” Konopka began, “one of the hardest things to do is make friends. In the two short years I’ve known Jon, I felt like I’ve known him my whole life.”
Recalling how his colleague usually picked him up to bring him to council meetings and brought him home, “he left me off with a smile on my face, laughing,” which frequently left his spouse puzzled.
“My wife often asked me, ‘Are you sure you went to a council meeting?’’’
Two years ago, Konopka said, he boarded the post-parade shuttle bus conveying participants in the annual West Hudson United Irish St. Patrick’s Day event to libation stops along the route but Giordano opted to skip the trip.
Last March, however, “we went on the bus together,” Konopka said, “and what an experience it was.” This he partly attributed to the fact that “both of our mothers are Irish.”
After the “tour” concluded, Konopka told his pal he was walking home, whereupon, Giordano insisted on accompanying him “to make sure you get home safe,” which he did.
At that point, Giordano bid him farewell. “‘Don’t worry, I’ll be all right,’ he told me,” Konopka said. “And he walked off into the night.”
Pausing to catch his breath, Konopka concluded his oration, saying, “I know Jon will be all right now. Remember, Jon, there’s another carpenter there.”