The family of james mazarazzo, sr., former north caldwell mayor and owner of matarazzo farms, have announced his Death
by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - The family of James R. Matarazzo, Sr., of North Caldwell, have announced that he passed away on Wednesday, Jul. 17, at the age of 73.
As former Mayor of North Caldwell and owner of Matarazzo Farms, and through his extensive community involvement and generosity, Jim was considered beloved. His loss will be felt by the entire West Essex area.
Born and raised in North Caldwell on his family's farm, Jim graduated from the first class of West Essex Regional Schools in 1964. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree, double majoring in both Sociology and Political Science, from Villanova University in 1968.
Jim had planned on being a teacher.
"Jim was a proud Villanovan, and a loyal fan to the basketball team," stated a family member. "He was able to witness three championships throughout his lifetime."
As it turned out, Jim never left the family farm and he continued his family's tradition of producing fresh fruits and vegetables for the many communities around northern New Jersey.
Jim even managed to combine his talent for leadership with his farming experience: after graduating from college he became the President of the Essex County Board of Agriculture and later served on the Rutgers Cook College Agricultural School Board of Regents and he would often promote the phrase: "No Local Farmers, No Local Food."
While his family farm which originally boasted 128 acres and dairy cows was now down to five acres, Jim took great pride in it being one of the last surviving working farms in Northern New Jersey.
"Above all, Jim's passion was the farm," commented family friend Carol Zimmermann Newlands. "Matarazzo Farms was where he worked the land and provided plants and produce to his community. He loved the earth like you love your children. One would often find him driving his tractor around the property."
Like his father before him (Joe Matarazzo, who was Mayor from 1961 to 1970), Mayor Jim excelled in serving his community. Beginning in 1971 Jim served his home town on the Planning Board and Juvenile Conference Committee and by 1979 he was elected to the Council at the age of 32; a position Jim held until 1987 when he was elected North Caldwell Mayor.
Michael Slattery of Caldwell recalled, "Jim was the patriarch of a family that has done so much for our communities, he leaves a legacy that will not be seen again. Jim's love for his family, his faith, his country , and for all of us was totally evident on that weather-worn handsome face."
Jim served the town as Mayor for fifteen years and his time spent in community service was filled with many notable accomplishments:
Additionally, beginning in 1971, Jim was an active member of the
North Caldwell Fire Department and for many years he was a member of UNICO.
In 1998, UNICO honored Jim with their Man of the Year award and in 2003, North Caldwell honored Jim with a celebration of his legacy.
"I've known Mr Matarazzo since I was 11-years-old," commented Ellen Nicolette Panza, of North Caldwell. "I already know he's taking care of all the beautiful flowers and vegetables in heaven. He was such a kind and loving man and a staple to our community. He will be deeply missed."
Jim loved watching baseball games and began North Caldwell's Men’s Softball Team which he was active in for at least a decade. He also gave of his time coaching his daughter's softball team when they were in grade school.
"Jim loved sports," said a family member. "He was a big Yankees fan as well as Nets, and when they were in Jersey he had season tickets for many years. He was a huge Nova fan."
Jim's humanitarian efforts were constant and sincere. He employed those needing extra money, and fed those urgently in need of food.
"The world lost a fine and gentle soul. Jim was the focal point of why I went to the Farmers Market almost every Saturday," reflected Marian Seid Rubin of Montclair.
Jim was pre-deceased by his parents Margaret “Midge” Cochrone Matarazzo and Constantino "Joe" Matarazzo, as well as his sister Dolores “Dolly” Paulison.
Jim is survived by:
The memorial arrangements for James R. Matarazzo, Sr., are as follows:
Message of Condolence
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Shook’s Cedar Grove Funeral Home. Notes of sympathy to the family may be written online here.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Toni's Soup Kitchen or Missionaries of Charity Soup Kitchen would be greatly appreciated:
Additionally, to have a Memorial Tree planted in Jim's honor go online here
With Matarazzo Farms being one of the last working Farms in Northeast New Jersey, and Jim being such a voice for the continued presence of farmfresh fruits and vegetables, it's no wonder that he was interviewed in September, 2000, by the Baltimore Sun. "At 54, Matarazzo figures he has a few more seasons left in him," they wrote:
"I'll probably die doing this," he says, lighting his pipe, a Panama hat shading his eyes."