Government

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

South Brunswick-Cranbury

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

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 ...

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 ...

New Brunswick Civic League Leader Still Looking for New Challenges After 48 Years at Helm

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - After 48 years of leading the charge for change in New Brunswick, Dr. C. Roy Epps can still be found quietly working on weekends in The Civic League of Greater New Brunswick offices.

The tireless commitment of the 77-year-old President and CEO of this non-profit has helped provide residents access to a variety of health, housing and education services over the ...

More than the Fourth of July, Make it a Star Spangled Week in the Long Beach Island Region of NJ

June 20, 2018

STAFFORD AND LONG BEACH ISLAND - Summer 2018 starts now, so time to enjoy the beauty of the Jersey Shore. As families and friends gather for the summer holiday, there is plenty of options to assist in rounding out July 4 vacation and getaways.

With July 4 falling on a Wednesday, there are many events surrounding the holiday.

The award winning Surf and Sip Brew Trail itinerary is available ...

Applications to Rutgers Jumps Nearly 10 Percent; Increase from Out-of-State Students

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Applications to Rutgers University this year increased 9.4 percent over last year, university President Robert Barchi told the Board of Governors at a meeting this week.

The university received nearly 45,000 applications this year, Barchi said.

That included a 20 percent increase in the number of students from out-side New Jersey applying to Rutgers, the university ...

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% year over year. Since its founding in 1997, Komen North Jersey has awarded nearly $19 million to local community programs in nine North Jersey counties and has directed ...

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 ...

Watson Coleman Introduces Resolution Acknowledging the Failures of the War on Drugs

As the House prepares to vote on more than 20 bills aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic over the next two weeks, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) announced a resolution that seeks parity in the treatment of drug use and addiction and a formal apology for the War on Drugs. H.Res. 933 expresses the sense of Congress that the War on Drugs failed, and calls out the disparate treatment of ...

Small Business Ownership vs. Entrepreneurship

Written by: Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column, Published on 6/18/2018

Tags: Business, Community, Crowdfunding, Economy, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Small Business

Source: So, which are you – a Small Business Owner or an Entrepreneur? We compare the similarities and differences between the two, so you can ...