But Amico was likely caught off guard on Jan. 24 when the New Jersey State League of Municipalities inducted him into the 2000 Elected Officials Hall of Fame.
"Dennis called me to invite me to Trenton," Amico said during a telephone interview a day after the induction. "He didn't give me any of the particulars."
"This came about as a result of a piece of literature that came through my office," said current mayor Dennis Elwell during a telephone interview last week. "The League of Municipalities asked if we had anyone who had served more than 20 years. Paul Amico served for 28 years as mayor. That is the second longest serving mayor in Secaucus history."
John Kane, who term ended in the early 1950s, served for 30 years.
Elwell said Amico guided the town from "A small sleepy community" to the center of business and industry is has become today.
"He served this town very well," Elwell said.
The League inducts municipal officials who have "selflessly guided their communities through the good times and troubled times with little recognition of their sacrifice."
The Mayors' Hall of Fame inductees must have at least 10 years of mayoral service to be inducted at the silver level, and at least 20 years of mayoral service to be inducted at the gold level.
Elected mayor in 1963, Amico served as mayor of Secaucus until he retired in 1991, giving him 28 years a mayor. This is a particular notable achievement because in Secaucus, the terms of office are two years, and this meant Amico was elected for 14 consecutive terms.
"Mayor Paul Amico is renowned and respected for leading Secaucus from a rural town to a contemporary corporate and retail center and for introducing a modern and professional municipal government to Hudson County," said an assembly resolution passed for the occasion and authored by Secaucus' own Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto. "His energetic style of leadership and abiding sense of commitment characterized Paul Amico's service to his fellow citizens in Secaucus."
In 1998 when the high school educational complex was named in Amico's honor, Impreveduto said Amico had served as his role model and hoped that someday he could achieve all the things that Amico has.
Amico had roots in Secaucus
Amico came to Secaucus in 1919 at the age of six. His parents had moved out of Little Italy in New York City seeking elbow room. His father worked on the New York Central railroad. At 13, Amico started to work for Marra's drug store behind the counter. A year later, he was working there full time. Although he didn't finish school, Amico soon graduated to his own diner, and it is this to which he credited his organizing skills.
Returning from the Army after World War II, Amico found things about local government he detested. Local politicians seemed to treat people with contempt. While he didn't run for office until the 1950s, he watched and learned, and then organized a personal political machine capable of beating politicians at their own game.
Providing service became one of the chief motivations for him over his 28-year mayoral career. It was in seeking increased services that Amico transformed the town from a backwater world of pig farms and trash deposits to one of the most successful business communities in the state.
"I was very pleased that the League of Municipalities honored me and others who had 20 years of service," Amico said. "I also want to thank Mr. Elwell for nominating me and Mr. Impreveduto for his effort in having a resolution passed by the state assembly."