Matthew F. Amato Jr., a columnist for The Hudson Reporter newspapers, died on Nov. 9 at age 64.
Amato wrote the biweekly “On the Streets Where We Live” column, which contained colorful items about local families, public officials, and students. His last column will run later this month.
The youngest of six children, Amato was born in Jersey City. He boasted that his father, Matthew Sr., introduced him to Hudson County politics at age 13. His father was a Democratic ward and district leader in Jersey City’s “Little Italy Village” section of Jersey City, where Matthew Jr. grew up. The family moved to the Greenville section later.
Amato wrote for the former Hudson Dispatch, where he worked with people like Nat Berg. He later said he often took inspiration from columnists such as Earl Morgan and Peter Weiss. Amato was also a source for the Hudson Reporter’s political column, Between the Lines.
Columnist Al Sullivan said, “I talked with Mattie daily. His knowledge of Hudson County’s political past was amazing, and the loss of his memories is immeasurable. I also considered him a friend, and I will miss hearing his voice.”
A close friend of Amato’s, Nicholas Mastorelli, called Amato “a truly good man.”
Mastorelli said former Jersey City Mayor Thomas F.X. Smith introduced them, and they remained close friends ever since.
Over the last several decades, Amato volunteered for a number of civic, ethic, and political associations, and served as a Greenville Democratic Party Zone Leader from 1973 to 1977.
Amato, who had a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from St. Peter’s College, and a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from Jersey City State College, published his masters’ thesis in 1980 called Jersey City, a city in socio-economic and political change, which influenced Smith’s later very successful publication The Powerticians, viewed as one of the first books to actually detail the way politics was done in the county.
Mastorelli said he brought on Amato as an instructor in a newly established “University without Walls” that later evolved into becoming the Hudson County Community College. Amato eventually became a counselor at the Hudson County Schools of Technology, from which he retired two years ago.
Over the years, Amato also served as an administrative assistant and planner for North Hudson Regional Council of Mayors.
“Mattie became the leader of the Greater Greenville Civic Association,” Mastorelli recalled.
A devout Catholic, Amato served as a communicant at Our Lady of Mercy R.C. Church in Greenville and later regularly attended services as Saint Michael’s Church in downtown Jersey City.
Although Amato said he was inspired by many people, he never lost faith in former Union City Mayor William Musto, whom Amato claimed “taught me the roots of compassion, patience, and public statesmanship – a mentor par excellence.”
Another inspiration was Willie Wolfe, a community activist in Jersey City, who ran sports programs and later had a portion of Washington Park named after him.
Reporter editor Caren Matzner said, “Matt always had a big smile and a kind word whenever he came into the office. His column is very popular, especially among Hudson County’s proud longtime residents, who enjoyed keeping up with old and new friends.”
Reporter Co-Publisher Dave Unger said, “Matt was a man with a big heart. That kindness was evident in every column he wrote for us and was the source of much of his popularity. We will all miss him.”
Co-Publisher Lucha Malato said, “Matt has a long history of writing and helping at the Hudson Reporter. We are all saddened by his passing.”