Obituaries for Oct. 14, 2020

Norman Rutan Steven Thiele

Norman Rutan

Norman Rutan of Kearny died Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, surrounded by his family at Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

He was 86.

Mr. Rutan was born in Newark and raised in Harrison. He had lived in Kearny since 1962.

After graduating high school, he served in the United States Air Force from 1952 until 1955.

Employed with Engelhard Industries for several years, he later joined the Kearny Police Department where he served for 26 years, retiring as detective on June 1, 1994.

Norman went on to pursue his interest in genealogy. By doing so, he helped many people seeking information about their family origin.

He was a former Kearny Senior Citizen of the Year.

Mr. Rutan is survived by his wife, Therese (nee Ostroman) Rutan, two daughters, Michele Preston of North Brunswick and Veronica Baran of Laurence Harbor. He was the grandfather of Corey Joseph and Edward Gregory.

Arrangements are private. A memorial service will take place at a later date.

Condolences and memories may be shared at

Lillian Mace

Lillian Mace (nee Whalen) died Oct. 6, 2020, at her home in East Hanover.

Lillian is survived by her three daughters, Diane, Maryann and Betty Anne, her 14 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by a son Stephen Mace and former husband Richard Mace.

Lillian was born in Harlem.

As a teenager, she moved to New Jersey and met her future husband, Richard Mace, at Kearny High School. In junior year of high school, she accepted a position at Western Electric in cost accounting. Her professional excellence continued when she and her husband opened Mace Bros. Fine Furniture, a successful furniture business in Kearny.

She was known as one of the first women in the furniture industry.

Lillian was a lifelong traveler and learner. She instilled in her family the importance of taking advantage of educational opportunities and led by example by going back to college in her 60s, attending Montclair University, to study art. In her lifetime she traveled to six continents and over 30 countries.

Lillian’s positivity, stories and sense of humor will be greatly missed.

Private arrangements were by the Armitage & Wiggins Funeral Home in Kearny. A Mass was celebrated at St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church, Kearny.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Where Angels Play Foundation at

James Wright

James Wright died Oct. 6, 2020.

He was 98.

Born on Baker Street in Glasgow, Scotland, he had lived in Kearny for many years.

Private arrangements were by the Armitage & Wiggins Funeral Home in Kearny.

James is a retired mason, having worked for Brick Layers Local No. 1.

During World War II, he was with the Scottish Cameron Highlanders Regiment.

James was the husband of the late Catherine (nee) Boles. She was affectionately known as Rena. He was the father of John “Scott” Wright and the late David Wright. He is also survived by his daughter-in-law Sharon, his grandchildren David, Douglas, Alan, Lauren, Leann, Lyn, Logan and John, along with his great-grandchildren Owen, Brody and Clara.

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

Jozefa (Josephine) Zajkowski

Jozefa (Josephine) Zajkowski died Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, at her home in Harrison after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

She was 92.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison A funeral Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison. She was interred next to her beloved husband Bronislaw at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa Cemetery, Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

To send a condolence message to her family, please visit

Jozefa was born Jan. 22, 1928, in Targonie-Wity in rural Poland, one of a set of twins, and she married Bronislaw in 1951. They lost their first child, a daughter, at 8 months. They had two sons and another daughter while living in Poland and were able to immigrate to the United States in 1960. They settled in Harrison, where her eldest brother, Piotr, lived. They expanded their family with another son, became naturalized American Citizens in 1970 and lived in Harrison for the rest of their lives.

A devoted wife and mother, Jozefa was a masterful baker, pierogi-maker, knitter, crocheter and seamstress. She was unparalleled as a bargain hunter, compiling and sending countless care packages to the brothers and sisters she left behind in Poland.

Her kitchen was frequently perfumed with the delicious aroma of babka, paczki and chrusciki, and she loved engaging neighborhood children, and later her grandchildren, in her baking rituals. She also loved sharing her baked goods with her neighbors, whose friendships she cherished.

Once her youngest son was in school, she began a part-time job in the catering operation of the Prudential in Newark. She loved her work, and the opportunity to serve the “big shots” when working in the executive dining room. Unfortunately, her working career was ended prematurely by a disabling accident when she was struck by a car as a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

She was actively involved in her church, Our Lady of Czestochowa in Harrison, as a member of the Rosary Altar Society. She had uncanny luck at the slot machines in Atlantic City, and she enjoyed trips to Toronto to visit her niece, the daughter of her youngest brother. She served as a substitute mom to two nephews who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s and she loved their families as her own.

One of the highlights of her life was a visit to the Holy Land with members of her church. Riding a camel might have been the high point until a scheduling glitch resulted in a private audience for her small group with Pope John Paul II. She had the opportunity to meet the first non-Italian Pope and speak to him in his (and her) native language of Polish and kissed his ring.

Jozefa adored her grandchildren and her first great-grandson, who arrived on the scene before Alzheimer’s had stolen her memory. She was always a willing babysitter, frequently reminding her children that being a “Babcia” was a much more rewarding gig than parenthood. She was always up for a road trip to visit her children and grandchildren when they lived in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida, Virginia and Illinois.

She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 68 years, Bronislaw; her brothers Piotr, Waclaw, Vincenty, Edmund and Antoni; her sisters Honorata, Kamila, Franciszka and her twin sister Janina; and her beloved niece-in-law Kamila Zajkowski.

Jozefa is survived by her loving children John (Rosa), Joseph (Elaine), Alice Andors (Louis) and Stanley (Suzanne). She was a beloved “Babcia” to six grandchildren (Andrew and Kristofer Zajkowski, Stephanie Ben M’hidi, James and Logan Andors and Katie Zajkowski) and four great-grandchildren Jason Ben M’hidi, and Tommy, Jackson and Maisy Andors; and she was “Ciocia” to great-nieces Cynthia and Kamila Zajkowski and Victoria Kulikowski as well as nieces and nephews in Connecticut, New Jersey, Texas, Alabama, Toronto and Poland.

In lieu of flowers, the family request donations to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund at in loving memory of Josephine.

Mary A. Mooney

Mary A. Mooney of Harrison died at Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck, after a short illness on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020.

She was 74.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was celebrated at Holy Cross Church, Harrison. Her interment took place in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

To send a condolence message to her family, please visit

Born in Newark, Mary was a lifelong resident of Harrison. She was a bookkeeper for AF Supply, Harrison and prior to that, she worked for Clayton Container, Harrison, and ShopRite in Kearny for several years.

She was a member of the Teamsters 917 Union in Brooklyn, and was a parishioner of Holy Cross Church, Harrison, for many years.

Predeceased by her husband, Henry J. (2004), Mary is survived by her loving sons, Kevin and wife Melissa and Brian. She was predeceased by her parents Alfred and Mary Barrett and her aunt and uncle Robert and Catherine Reynolds.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Humane Society of Bergen County, 221 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, N.J. 07071, in loving memory of Mary.


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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.