Obituaries for Oct. 5, 2022

Philip H. Thiele

Philip H. Thiele, 90, our beloved “Cappy,” died suddenly but peacefully, the way he had always hoped, on Sunday evening, Sept. 25, 2022, in the Job Haines Home, Bloomfield.

Visiting was at the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The funeral service was at the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Kearny. Cremation was private. Condolences and memories may be shared at

Born in the family home at 247 Belgrove Drive on Dec. 27, 1931, he lived in Kearny until moving to North Arlington in 1965.

Philip graduated from Kearny High School in 1949. On Memorial Day in 1951, he rang the doorbell at the John D. Crane & Sons Funeral Home at 241 Kearny Ave.  He was hired as an apprentice, and this was the beginning of a 70-year career in funeral service.

He was drafted in 1952 and served his country in the U.S. Army. After being honorably discharged in 1954, he returned to Crane Funeral Home. Upon completion of his apprenticeship, he enrolled at McAllister School of Embalming in New York City and graduated June 20, 1957. Shortly after, he earned his New Jersey Practitioner of Mortuary Science License (No. 2383).

On Dec. 23, 1966, the Crane family sold the funeral business to Philip and Joan Thiele where they continued to operate the funeral home for the next 42 years. On Dec. 5, 2008, his son, Steven, and daughter-in-law, Helen, acquired the Edward T. Reid Home for Funerals at 585 Belgrove Drive. It is here where the Crane, Thiele and Reid funeral homes currently operate as the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home.

Philip was a member of the Essex, Union and West Hudson Funeral Directors Association and the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association. Mr. Thiele was an active member of the Kearny Optimist Club, the Salvation Army Advisory Board, Copestone-Ophir Lodge No. 108 F. & A.M. and the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, all of Kearny. Phil was also a member of the Ocean Grove Fishing Club and the Crystal Point Yacht Club, Brick. It was at Crystal Point where he docked his beloved Chris Craft named the “Wake Maker.”

 In his later years, Phil enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, trips to the Jersey Shore and watching his favorite sports teams. Every boat or marina we see, every Giant, Yankee or Ranger game we watch, every perfectly prepared VO Manhattan on the rocks we drink are just a few things that will remind us of our beloved “Cappy.”

A heartfelt thank you to the entire staff at the Job Haines Home. Your care and compassion is second to none.

He is survived by three children, David P. Thiele and his wife, Patricia Wieland of Nanuet, New York; Gaye S. McLaughlin and her husband, Richard, of Livingston; and Steven R. Thiele and his wife Helen of Kearny. He was the grandfather of Jessie Thiele, Sarah and Matthew McLaughlin and Brendan, Jonathan, Ryan and Jeremy Thiele.

Phil was predeceased by his wife, Joan Thiele (nee Adams) his brother, Alfred E. and his wife, Elaine S. (Schweighardt) Thiele.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in his name to the Remembrance Fund of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Kearny.

Gerald Jay Lawless

Jay Lawless died Sept. 21, 2022.

He was 88.

Born in Jersey City, he lived in Harrison and many years in Kearny before retiring to Florida 34 years ago.

Visiting was at the Armitage & Wiggins Funeral Home, Kearny. His funeral Mass was at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny. Burial was in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Jay served in the Army during the Korean War. He graduated from Seton Hall University and went on to earn his master’s degree from St. Peter’s. He was a school principal for the Kearny Board of Education. He was an avid fan of the Yankees and the Giants. He loved playing tennis and had been a long time member of the Arlington Players Club.

Jay is survived by his beloved wife Peggy (nee Davitt), his loving children; Bridget McEwan, Kathleen Lawless and Sean Lawless along with his grandchildren Cailin, Evan, Thomas, Patrick, Christian, Madeline and Gerald and his great-grandson Michael.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Robert Moose Gassert

Robert “Moose” Gassert has died aged 68.

Bobby grew up in Harrison and lived there until moving to Toms River in 2013.

Bobby worked for the Harrison Police Department and the Harrison Housing Authority for 34 years retiring in May 2009. He loved working for the town of Harrison. Bobby did his job with pride and wore his badge with great honor.

He was a faithful communicant of Holy Cross Church, Harrison, and St. Justin the Martyr Church, Toms River, where he served as an Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus in Harrison and the Harrison-East Newark Elks before transferring to the Toms River Council.

Bobby enjoyed taking photographs of beautiful sunsets and lighthouses. He was always willing to lend a helping hand in any way that he could with energy and a smile.

Bobby devoted his life caring for his beloved wife Joan Ellen. He met Joan Ellen in the Harrison Library Park which we are all so familiar with. They fell in love, married and traveled the world together. May the Choir of Angels lead our dear friend Bobby to paradise to be with his beloved Joan Ellen.

Visitation was at Silverton Memorial Funeral Home, Toms River. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Justin the Martyr Church, Toms River. Interment was in St. Anne’s Cemetery in Wall Township.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the St. Francis Bread line in New York, New York and also St. Vincent DePaul Society at St. Justin the Martyr Church.

John Jack Lawless

John “Jack” Lawless of Harrison died peacefully on Sept. 20, 2022 at the age of 94 surrounded by his loving family.

Jack, the son of Frank and Mary, was a lifelong resident of Harrison and parishioner of Holy Cross Church. He graduated from Harrison High School and served in the army during World War II. He was predeceased by his parents, sister Mary and brothers Frank and Jay. Jack had a steadfast bond with his brother, “Uncle Frank,” and the dynamic duo was well known throughout Harrison.

Jack served as Irishmen of the year for Cifelli Association in 1997.

Jack was a proud Harrison fireman, beginning his 35 year long career in 1957.  He retired as Deputy Chief in 1992, when he gained his lasting nickname “Deputy” by his sons. As many of you know, the career of a fireman does not end at retirement. Jack was a member of the FMBA Local 22, Firemen’s Relief and Exempt Association and on the Supervisory Committee for the Harrison Police and Firemen Federal Credit Union. He spent countless afternoons listening to the fire scanner or driving around in his fire engine red Buick.

His greatest accomplishment in life, however, was being a cherished husband, dedicated father, dear brother and doting Poppa. He was admired and adored by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who he fondly called Poppa’s Crew, oftentimes trading in his Harrison baseball cap for their sports’ teams as he was their biggest fan.

Jack was a timeless family man, spending the summers in Seaside Park, vacationing in South Carolina, driving to Atlantic City and looking forward to the holidays with family and friends.  He never passed up an outing or ice cold one with friends.

Jack was predeceased by his wife of 62 years, Ann Lawless, and daughter-in-law, Susan Lawless.

Jack is survived by his two sons Jack Lawless and wife, Eileen and Jimmy Lawless and wife, Lorena; his four grandchildren Jodi Cocchiola and husband, Tom, Meghan Wilkinson and husband, Dave, James Lawless, and John Lawless; his four great-grandchildren Thomas Jack, Paige Elizabeth, Kate Elizabeth and Delaney Sue; his sisters-in-law, Margaret Chiarello and Peg Lawless, also many loving cousins, nieces, nephews and cherished friends.

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

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations in loving memory of Jack to the New Jersey Firemen’s Home, 565 Lathrop Ave., Boonton, N.J. 07005 or VNA Hospice Care at or Fund Development Office, 199 Rosewood Drive, Suite 180, Danvers, Mass. 01923.

Marie A. McCrea

Marie A. McCrea, (LaSpada), 91, died Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 at Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

The funeral will be from the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny, on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, 11 a.m. Interment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Born in Kearny, Mrs. McCrea moved to North Arlington in 1942.

She was a customer service representative at Valley National Bank in North Arlington for many years before retiring.

Marie is survived by two daughters, Diane McCrea and Colleen McCrea and her husband, John McAdams; and three grandchildren Jesse and Cody Czerminski and Natalie Cassano. She was predeceased by her husband, Albert McCrea and one brother, Carmen (Mike) LaSpada.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in her name to the Bergen County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, 100 United Lane, Teterboro, N.J. 07608.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off 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 Facebook Live, 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 West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.