Joseph A. Cundari
Joseph A. Cundari of Harrison, N.J., entered into eternal rest on March 19, 2013.
He was a resident at The Cliffs, West Orange, N.J., since 2011. The funeral will be conducted from the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison, N.J. 07029 on Monday, March 25, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. A Funeral Mass will be at Holy Cross Church, Harrison, N.J., at 10 a.m., with the Rev. Joseph Girone, pastor, officiating. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington, N.J. Friends may call on Saturday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.; Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., and Monday from 9 a.m.
Joe was born in Harrison, N.J., on July 11, 1914, the son of Anthony and Carolina (D’Amico) Cundari. He was a graduate of Holy Cross Grammar School (1928) and Seton Hall High School (1932). He earned a bachelor’s degree (1936) and master’s degree (1938) in civil engineering from Manhattan College.
He worked in the Ford Motor Company foreign export department (1936 to 1939) and as a structural steel designer with Hugh A. Kelly Associates, Jersey City, N.J. (1939 to 1941), in the design of plans for federal housing projects in Harrison; Jersey City, N.J.; Burlington, N.J., and Stratford, Conn. During World War II (1941 to 1945), Joe was a master sergeant in the Army’s 341st Engineer Regiment. He was chief of engineering operations and supervised construction of the Alaska Military Highway between Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson in British Columbia (1943). He oversaw the reconstruction of railroad bridges in France, Belgium, and Germany (1944 to 1945). In addition to many military service medals, he was also awarded the Legion of Merit Medal for his services.
Joe joined the Wigton-Abbot Corporation of Plainfield, N.J., as assistant construction manager in 1946 and in 1982 became construction manager. Also in March 1946, he was appointed town engineer by Harrison Mayor Frank Rodgers. For 56 years, until his retirement in May 2002, he supervised all major public projects, which included the Stickel Bridge, John F. Kennedy Stadium, Harrison Recreation Center, Harrison High School, the addition to Lincoln School, fire headquarters, public library, renovation of the Senior Citizens Center, the additions of hundreds of family homes on former industrial sites, the reconstruction of the Bridge Street and Jackson Street bridges, demolition of the PSE&G gas container, and construction of recreation facilities such as playgrounds, basketball courts, mini soccer field and tennis courts. He was responsible for the plans and specifications for the construction of new water mains, sanitary and storm sewers, street paving, fire alarm and traffic signals. He served as zoning board officer (1948) and planning board officer (1977) until his retirement. In retrospect, during his 56 years of service, he oversaw the development of all of Harrison’s town improvements.
In 1990 Joe was appointed to the board of trustees for Hudson County Community College, Jersey City, N.J. In 1998 he was named trustee emeritus and was very involved in fundraising and establishing scholarships for students. In 1999, in recognition of his outstanding service and contributions, a newly opened wing of the college was dedicated as the Joseph A. Cundari Center.
Joe’s civic service also included being named a vice president of the West Hudson Hospital Association (1958 to 1962) and vice president of the Harrison Board of Education (1991 to 1996). In November 1999, the Christopher Columbus Foundation Day honored Joe as an outstanding citizen. He was also recognized in 2003 and again in 2011 by Mayor Ray McDonough as Harrison’s Outstanding Senior Citizen. On April 28, 2011, the Harrison Board of Education voted to name the tennis courts at Harrison High School “The Joseph A. Cundari Tennis Courts” to serve as a lasting reminder for everyone of the unstinting dedication of a venerable Harrisonian.
In his personal life, Joe enjoyed attending theatrical productions and operas and was an accomplished pianist. He had an avid interest in photography and oil painting.
He was a member of the K of C Our Lady of Grace Council No. 402, the Sgt. Williams A. Sawelson V.F.W. Post No. 340, the Holy Cross Church Holy Name Society, and many professional engineering societies.
Tennis was a major interest in his life, initially as a player and founder of the Harcy Tennis Club, and then as a lifetime member of the Arlington Players Tennis Club, where he served in many capacities for over 60 years. He was also a major sponsor of the New Jersey State Tennis Championship Tournament for 40 years.
Joe was very dedicated to his family, always being present at every major event in the lives of his family. No matter the time or distances, he was always present in happy and sad occasions. He was “Uncle Joe” to one and all.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Anthony and Carolina Cundari; his brother, Dominic, and his sisters, Catherine and Vincentine. Survivors include his brother, James P. (Johanna) Cundari, Sandusky, Ohio; his nephews, Anthony Cundari, Norwalk, Ohio, and Joseph Cundari, Sandusky, Ohio; his nieces, Johanna Powers, Sandusky, Ohio; Maria Horvath, Oxford, Mich., and Carolyn Williams Sardella, Kearny, N.J., and many grand-nephews and -nieces, great-grand nephews and -nieces, cousins, and his faithful companion of over 30 years, Rena Stoll.
Memorial contributions in memory of Joe may be given to Holy Cross Church, Harrison, N.J.; Hudson County Community College, Jersey City, N.J.; the Arlington Players Club, Kearny, N.J., or to one’s favorite charity. The dedicated loyal citizen, soldier and family man now rests in peace in God’s hands. What Joe accomplished in his life will live on for many years to come.
Published in Star-Ledger from March 22 to March 23, 2013
Cundari, Joseph A. [MC1936 RIP]
# – # – # – # – # 2013-Mar-23 @ 11:58
Message from Anthony Cundari:
Thank you on behalf of my Dad, Jim Cundari and the Cundari Family. My uncle and godfather was a true member of The Greatest Generation and he will be missed greatly. Anthony Cundari
[JR: Received a rare response.]
# – # – # – # – # 2013-Mar-24 @ 10:42