FANWOOD, NJ -- Fanwood and the law enforcement community throughout New Jersey are mourning the passing of longtime Fanwood Police Chief Anthony "Tony" Parenti, who died on Thursday afternoon at age 87.
Chief Parenti was born in Plainfield on May 29, 1932, and graduated from Plainfield High School. He was an Air Force veteran of the Korean War and was honorably discharged. Chief Parenti began his career in law enforcement in 1956 when he joined the Plainfield Police Department, where he served along with his older brother, George.
In 1957, Tony Parenti married his wife, Sally, and moved to Fanwood, where they lived for over 60 years and raised three children: Anthony, Jr., a retired sergeant with the Summit Police Department; William, who is the police chief in North Plainfield, and a daughter, Nancy.
Chief Parenti served the Fanwood Police Department with distinction for over 40 years -- including more than 22 years as its leader -- until his retirement in 1997. He served as president of the NJ State Association of Chiefs of Police from 1989-90, was also president of Union County Chiefs of Police, and a member of the New Jersey Police Honor Legion, which recognizes the "Finest of the Finest" for their acts of heroism and valor. Chief Parenti was also a founding member of the New Jersey Police Traffic Officers' Association and served as its president for over 30 years.
Chief Parenti helped pass numerous legislative bills that were signed into law in New Jersey, including the one that increased the drinking age to 21 in New Jersey and nationally. He also served as chair of the State Commission on Drunk Driving. Upon his retirement from the Fanwood Police Department, he became the director of the Union County's John H. Stamler Police Academy from 1998 until 2007. But that was not the end of his public service; Parenti, a Republican, also served two terms as a Fanwood Councilman (2008-13).
"Tony Parenti served the community in so many different ways -- in the military, as a longtime member of the Fanwood police, and later as a Councilman," said Mayor Colleen Mahr. "He always saw the person, not the party. He was fair, smart, and honorable. I loved serving with him, and he loved Fanwood to the core. We will fly flags at half-staff in his honor."
His eventual successor, current Fanwood Police Chief Richard Trigo, expressed similar sentiments.
"Chief Parenti had a long and distinguished career marked by knowledge, character, integrity, and leadership ability," said Chief Trigo of the man who hired him. "He was a mentor, confidante, and friend who always made himself available to me in both my personal and professional life. I will miss him dearly. The entire community feels this loss."
Union County Freeholder Al Mirabella, whose father was a police chief in Elizabeth for many years, said: "Chief Parenti was the consummate public servant - as police chief, Fanwood Councilman, and Director of the Union County Police Academy. I had the utmost respect for Chief Parenti and will miss his friendship."
TAPintoSPF will update this story with service arrangement information once it becomes available.