"I feel I've done a great job and I'm more than qualified to continue," Ferullo said in a question-and-answer forum before the election. "I love the people in this town and I reach out to them. I'm going to run now and again and again."
Ferullo, one of the most popular politicians in the township's history, collected 77 percent of the vote on Election Day, more than any other candidate.
"I'm very proud of the service I've given to the community," Ferullo said right before that day. "I take my love for the town, especially the children of the town, very seriously. I consider it now my full-time job to serve the residents. The quality of life is important from the littlest child to the senior citizen. We're there to help them. The best qualities of Weehawken are all of it. The whole thing."
The love affair between Lou Ferullo and the township of Weehawken ended abruptly and tragically last Sunday evening, when Ferullo suffered a fatal heart attack while shoveling snow in front of his home. Ferullo was 65.
News of Ferullo's death sent shockwaves throughout the close-knit community that Ferullo called home for nearly four decades. It was inconceivable to some to think that the omnipresent Ferullo would no longer be spotted near the neighborhood delicatessen with a coffee container in hand, or cheering on the Weehawken sports teams of all ages.
"He became a fixture in this town," a saddened Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said. "It's obviously a tremendous loss to his great family, but it's a huge loss to Weehawken. Lou was a friend, a political ally, an advisor and counselor. He didn't say a lot, but when he spoke, he meant it. It's a tragedy. I lost a close personal friend. It's a tremendous loss to all of us. People like Lou don't come around often."
Added Turner, "When I think of the term 'public servant,' that was Lou Ferullo. He epitomizes that term. He was totally dedicated to the position. He had three loves in his life - his family, his community and the Marine Corps. He never asked for anything for himself."
Ferullo served the people of Weehawken in a public capacity for the last 25 years - 13 years as a member of the Board of Education and the last 12 as the 1st Ward Councilman.
"He was the longest serving public official in the town," Turner said. "He represented me at numerous events as the deputy mayor, especially at sporting events, which he truly loved. He never missed a game. He never missed a senior citizen function. Children and senior citizens were always his focus."
Turner recalled the first time he became associated with the man who later became his friend.
"I met Lou when he was on the Board of Education," said Turner, who was assigned to help Weehawken by then Gov. Thomas Kean in 1982, when the township was on the verge of bankruptcy. "I'm sure the first time we met, it was at a sporting event. No question about that."
At the time, Turner said that there was a lot of bad blood between the government and the Board of Education.
"There was a lot of political backbiting going on," Turner said. "At the time, the relationship between the government and the Board of Education was very poor. Lou stepped in and said, 'Enough is enough,' and worked to end the distance between the two. He said that everyone had to work together to benefit the kids. That was always Lou's goal. Whatever was best for the kids."
When Turner was forming his ticket to run for mayor in 1990, he asked Ferullo to join the ticket as the 1st Ward candidate.
"I could see that he was committed to the community," Turner said. "He was always there to help people, especially children."
Ferullo was a long-time coach in all of the Weehawken Recreation activities, especially basketball and Little League baseball, and was a driving force to help resurrect the township's youth football program in 1993. Ferullo was also a long-time member of the Weehawken High School booster club. He was elected into the Weehawken High School Sports Hall of Fame last year as a special honoree for his dedication and devotion to the children of the community.
"It wasn't just me and my brother," his son, Rob Ferullo recalled last week. "He helped every kid. He told us once that he didn't have just me and my brother as his kids. Every kid in Weehawken was his kid."
As a member of the township council, Ferullo was a very influential figure.
"His financial knowledge from his career [as a wire transactions officer for the United States Trust Company in New York] was solid," Turner said. "He had an impeccable reputation in the town. When he was elected, he wanted to beef up recreation, and we did that. He was trusted and loved by everyone. With all of his experience and his knowledge of the town, he was a perfect fit.
Added Turner, "He was a stabilizing force through some tumultuous times. In 1989, the Board of Education was at Level Three monitoring, which is one step ahead of a state takeover. Lou led the coalition to get something done at the time, and now we lead the county in test scores. That's a credit to Lou."
Born and raised in Jersey City, Ferullo was a graduate of Ferris High School. After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps (an accomplishment that Ferullo held in the highest regard), he married his wife, Raye, and moved to Weehawken.
"It didn't take long before Weehawken became my home," Ferullo said in a 1994 interview. "I could tell right away that I was never going to leave."
The Ferullos had two sons, Louis, Jr. and Robert.
"My dad was so much of an influence on me," said Rob Ferullo, now 31, a teacher in the West New York school system and the tennis coach at Weehawken High School. "Everything I have is because of him. He was such a positive influence. A few years ago, I was in law school and he knew I was unhappy. I was coaching all day and loved it and coaching was something he did. He said to me, 'Why don't just teach and coach full-time?' He planted the seed and I went with it."
Rob Ferullo said that he will choose to remember his father with funny personal stories.
"My dad retired 10 years ago, and after that, I always had a funny knack of catching him doing nothing," Rob Ferullo said. "I would walk into the house and he'd be lying in the chair with his feet up and I'd say, 'Why don't you do something with yourself?' I was busting his chops, because I knew he had just probably returned from doing something for someone. But it was almost like I could time it. I'd walk into the house and I'd see him in the same position."
It was during the wake at Leber Funeral Home in Union City that Rob Ferullo truly understood how popular his father was.
"There was a continual flow of people," Rob Ferullo said. "The line went out the door and onto Kennedy Boulevard. It was an unbelievable display. It was a great showing by our town. I was so uplifted by it. When all the kids came, it was heartbreaking, but at the same time, exhilarating, because it showed how much they cared for my dad and how much he cared about the kids. So many times, he would preach how much he loved kids. If it was an act, it was the greatest acting job in the world. His whole mantra was helping kids."
Added Rob Ferullo, "My dad was always such a positive guy. I never realized until now, but no one ever said a bad thing about him. I can't think of anyone he would wish ill will towards. That's maybe the best way to remember him."
His closest friends, like Public Works Director Vincent Giusto, were also saddened by Ferullo's passing.
"It's terrible," said Giusto, who became more than a friend when his daughter married Rob Ferullo four years ago. "He was the nicest guy you ever wanted to meet. He was like a silent hero. He didn't say much, but he said what he had to. Everyone loved him. He was just a good friend who then became a member of my extended family. We're all going to miss him dearly."
The usually unflappable Turner was deeply moved by the loss of his friend.
"He was my right-hand man, my confidant, my friend," Turner said. "It's a very close personal loss."
Ferullo's funeral was planned for Friday morning at St. Lawrence Church in Weehawken, where he was a long-time parishioner.
Turner said that the council will meet sometime next week to talk about a replacement. By law, the council has 30 days to select a replacement in the 1st Ward. Town attorneys were still reviewing the process as to when the special election will be held to finish the remaining three years of Ferullo's term, either in May or November of this year.
Rob Ferullo was asked when he will feel the brunt of his father's death the most.
"Probably when I go to Weehawken Stadium to watch a game," Rob Ferullo said. "We were talking about that today with the regulars, like the Kallerts, the Jodices, the Maiones and the Barones. We all can't believe he won't be there. I guess we all will have to cheer a little louder. He may not be around, but he'll still be rooting. He'll be up there watching all of us."