Middlesex County News

South Brunswick Bids Farewell To Mayor Frank Gambatese

a6cc6a9e186f74ebe611_IMG_6289.JPG
South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese is laid to rest following services Tuesday and Wednesday at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church. Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
11625c80a50e67778d02_IMG_6271.JPG
Police cars line up on Kingston Lane during Mayor Frank Gambatese's funeral Wednesday. Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
ec8eedd1dd660fd7bc2a_IMG_6272.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
7d0333c1b0b8a0a7b145_IMG_6294.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
d94d237a1ca137394225_IMG_6307.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
d5a646c286d5b9f9f128_IMG_6308.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
eaf84c9644bfd09020d4_IMG_6313.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
66e6e044b2c6922c4e3e_IMG_6315.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
add58aaa962b79161be2_IMG_6322.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
3a7d878976ffe98ef477_IMG_6324.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
b89345a47a9ea4ef4f54_IMG_6334.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
fdb1d54a9a66c7dd3abe_IMG_6347.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
9695b2e28fa79d980a6f_IMG_6348.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
424ae1b1a273e938a643_IMG_6350.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
a6cc6a9e186f74ebe611_IMG_6289.JPG

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – “We are in deep grief over the loss of a tremendous man, so genuine, such a gentleman,” Township Councilman Joe Camarota said leaving the funeral mass of Mayor Frank Gambatese Wednesday. “As his family is grieving, we, as a town, are grieving.”

Gambatese, 81, who died Saturday after a brief illness, was celebrated Tuesday and Wednesday with services at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church on Kingston Lane.

He won the seat in 2002, making him the longest serving mayor in township history.

Sign Up for E-News

“The whole town of South Brunswick is mourning today from such a great loss,” Camarota said. “We were his family too. That’s how he treated us.”

Hundreds of people attended family calling hours Tuesday and then a funeral mass Wednesday morning preceding his burial in North Brunswick.

South Brunswick police cars, with lights flashing, parked diagonally along the shoulder of Kingston Lane next to the church and a police honor guard attended both services, standing on each side of Gambatese’s casket.

Gambatese was in the middle of his fourth, four-year term as mayor when he passed away.

He moved to the township from West Paterson with his late wife, Ellen, in 1992.

Two units from that Passaic County town’s police force took part in the procession from the church to the burial along with South Brunswick police cars and officers.

Gambatese served as mayor of West Paterson, now called Woodland Park, for several years before retiring to South Brunswick after a successful career as a corporate accountant.

Retiring from politics was not in the cards, however, and he found himself swept up in public service in his new home.

During a party for his 80th birthday last year, Gambatese said that he initially contacted local Democrats to put up a lawn sign.

When they didn’t get back to him, he said his wife told him to get involved.

He won his first election to the Township Committee under the old form of government in 1997, then ran again a year later when the form of government changed to council/manager, winning a seat on the new council.

Before he served as mayor, Gambatese served as deputy mayor under the administration of Mayor Debra Johnson, the first directly elected mayor in the township.

“He was my running mate and my friend. He was an amazing individual. “Johnson said outside of the church, a tear rolling down her cheek as she spoke. “He really cared about all people.”

Johnson said that Gambatese had a special gift to be able to communicate with everyone in the diverse township regardless of ethnicity or religion.

“It is very difficult sometimes to find a person that can always communicate with every type of person, but he had that ability because of his innate love and compassion for people,” she said. “His leadership has done great things for the town.”

When Johnson decided not to seek a second term as mayor in 2002, Gambatese ran as the Democratic candidate and won the seat, which he held through three more elections.

Since his death, Saturday, accolades from many different sources have come in to pay tribute to the man, and leader of the 42-square mile, 48,000 resident community in Middlesex County.

Former GOP Councilman John O’Sullivan said that Gambatese was dedicated to the community and that he enjoyed serving with him on the governing body.

“Frank cared about this town,” O’Sullivan said. “He is going to be very hard to replace.”

Board of Education member, and community activist, Azra Baig said that it is up to the community to maintain his legacy.

"Mayor Gambatese was an exceptional individual. He had an open-door policy and was always there to listen to the people of South Brunswick and to their concerns,” Baig said. “His leadership has helped shape the town to be a wonderful place for all to live. He has left a legacy of bringing people together, the importance of serving others, and to treat one another with kindness and respect. It will be everyone's responsibility who is part of South Brunswick to carry his legacy on. He will be missed tremendously." 

Did you like this story?

Give us your feedback at ckim@tapinto.net or nwells@tapinto.net and click here to express your support for local news today.

If you did like it, please share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to "Like" our Facebook Page!

Download the TAPinto App!   Click here for Android - Click here for iOS .

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Piscataway

Edison Police Seek Help Finding Missing 14-Year-Old

June 22, 2018

EDISON, NJ - A 14-year-old Edison girl who ran away from home on May 3 has yet to be found and police are asking anyone with information about  to come forward.

Edison detectives are leading a statewide search for the girl, Jalaysia Staplar-Evans. They said they believe she could be staying with friends or acquaintances in Newark or the Essex County area, said Edison Police Lt. Robert ...

Obituaries

Piscataway – Michael John Doherty, 73, passed away Saturday June 16, 2018 in Las Vegas, ...
Read more
Toms River – Mary Stella Whiteman, 97, passed away peacefully Saturday May 19, 2018 in Rose ...
Read more

Susan G. Komen North Jersey Increases Program Funding by 15% for 2018-2019 and Awards 13 Grants to 11 Local Community Non-Profit Organizations

June 21, 2018

Susan G. Komen North Jersey Increases Program Funding by 15% for 2018-2019

and Awards 13 Grants to 11 Local Community Non-Profit Organizations

June 21, 2018  – Susan G. Komen North Jersey announced that it will award a total of 13 grants to 11 local community non-profit organizations in its nine-county service area for 2018-2019, with an increase in total program funding at 15% ...

The ESCNJ Offers Innovative Software To Strengthen School Transportation

New software promising greater speed and efficiency for school transportation departments is now available through the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ).

The software is the result of a two year collaboration between the Princeton based Artha Systems, an international supplier of business management software, and the ESCNJ.

“The software is unlike anything on the ...

Rutgers takes over New Brunswick police dispatch service

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University will provide the city’s police dispatching services in a move that New Brunswick says will cut costs and put an end to dispatcher shortages that resulted in officers doing the job.

The city’s 12 current dispatchers will be laid off at the end of the day on June 30, and Rutgers will supply dispatchers as of July 1 under an agreement that city ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_8f0a915f696bb2ae1366_community_shred

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Quibbletown Park, Piscataway

Piscataway Township Paper Shredding Event

Government Green

Carousel_image_69a18f0b201d125f101a_health___wellness_symposium_final_6-17-18

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

Reformed Church of Highland Park, Highland Park

Free Community Health Fair & Wellness Symposium

Education Giving Back Health & Wellness Other

Wed, June 27, 7:00 PM

Piscataway Public Library, Piscataway

Empowerment for the Job Search: Applications & ...

Business & Finance

Thu, July 5, 7:00 PM

Piscataway Public Library, Piscataway

Trivia Night at the Library!

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield High School Sophomore Dies; Counselors on Hand at School

June 19, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Carthoris “Carter” Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High School, died Sunday night, according to Westfield Public Schools and a letter sent to parents by Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over the death of Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High ...

My So-Called Graduation

The last of my children graduated from high school.  

 

My son and daughter threw their caps high into the air and cheered their liberation from one symbolic institution before contemplating their matriculation into other, much larger institutions significantly further away.  

 

Or at least far enough away that they won’t be needing rides home from ...