In an attempt to memorialize a man who has become known as "Mr. Secaucus," Marra's Drug Store became the first business to purchase a $2,500 Gift of Wisdom plaque as part of a wall sculpture planned for the new Secaucus Public Library and Business Resource Center.
Store proprietors Michael J. Marra III, Gerard A. Marra II and Angelo Marra gave a check in November to Library Director Katherine Steffens that will allow their father, the late Gerard A. Marra Sr. - the drug store's founder - to be permanently remembered. The plaque will be one of the largest to adore a commemorative wall sculpture inside the new library.
The elder Marra founded the family drugstore in 1923, and it has since become one of the most familiar landmarks in town. Born in 1896, the elder Marra grew up in the "Horseshoe" section of Jersey City. He began working in a pharmacy at age 11, and started Marra's Drug Store when he moved to Secaucus.
Marra was dubbed "Mr. Secaucus" because of his extended involvement in the community. He served as an appointed member of the Board of Education for 40 years. He served on the library board for 10 years, served in the U.S. Medical Corps. during World War I, and received a citation from then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his work on the local draft board. He was involved significantly in the American Legion, UNICO, Elks and moose lodges, the American Cancer Society, the Kiwanis club, the Knights of Columbus, the Union City Selective Service Board, and other drug-industry related organizations. Marra was also instrumental in forming the Secaucus Memorial Day Parade. Marking Marra's death in 1967, a memorial stone was erected on the grounds of the Municipal Government Center.
While his songs have carried on Marra's legacy, both by keeping the drug store operating and by getting involved in a variety of community activities, the new plaque would memorialize him in the new library.
Steffens said Marra's Drug store was also one of the first local businesses to become a lifetime member of the Friends of the Library when the organization was founded in 1997, and is the first business in town to purchase the Gift of Wisdom plague.
"Marra's Drug Store and the Marra family have always been at the forefront of giving to the community and supporting worthwhile projects, particularly those that involve education," Steffens said. "Like their father, they [Marra's sons] are community-mined and always willing to lend a helping hand, whether it's for the schools, Kiwanis or the library."
Along with its $2,500 donation for the plaque, Marra's Drug Store is giving 10 percent of store gift certificate revenues for the holiday season to the library.
Friends of the Secaucus Public Library are selling the plaques - which can be inscribed to recognize an individual, group, business or family - in an effort to raise money for the new library in order to supply furnishings and technology. The effort, which is being done in conjunction with the mayor and council, also offers bricks that will be placed on the grounds of the new library on Paterson Plank Road. Depending on the size and style, the cost ranges from $100 to $2,500 for plaque and from $75 to $500 for bricks.
For more information about the program call (201) 330-2083.