After 40 years of public service to the community in which he was born, 2nd Ward Councilman Richard Del Boccio was honored last week for his contributions to the public. He worked as a city councilman for 17 years and served for over 20 years at Calabro Elementary School, 18 of which as principal.
The event's guest list included: State Senator Bernard Kenny Jr., Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Hudson County Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts, Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, and most of the Hoboken City Council.
"Like everything in life, you begin a story and you end a story," said Del Boccio. "I'm very fortunate to have had two careers in Hoboken and I just want to thank everyone who is here and who's not here for giving me the opportunity to serve and to do my part for the community," said Del Boccio to the over 100 friends, family members and politicians who attended the party.
The councilman announced late last year that he did not plan to run for reelection this coming spring, which would have been his fourth consecutive term representing the residents of the 2nd Ward.
The party was given by the Anthony Russo Civic Association and held at Hoboken's Lounge 11, a bar and restaurant located at 505 Madison St. that serves Italian cuisine.
Accolades all around
Close to a dozen guests praised Del Boccio's character and commitment to the community and presented him with eight local, county, state, and national proclamations, including one from New Jersey's 13th District Congressman Albio Sires, who was unable to attend.
Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo, who, in addition to hosting the party, was a former student of Del Boccio's at Calabro in the 1980s, described the outgoing councilman as "a firm leader, strong and stern, but also compassionate."
Russo added, "He's guided me through my childhood, my education, and through the council. He's a mentor to me and above all, a real friend."
Kenny, who presented Del Boccio with a proclamation from the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly on behalf of himself and Silverio Vega, described the councilman as a "a man of many, many talents and tremendous integrity."
Kenny added, "You served [Hoboken] for 20 years and you are respected by your peers, your colleagues, and the entire community. I don't think it gets any better than that in politics."
Echoing Kenny's sentiment, Roberts said, "The qualities that you possessed when you entered into public life, you possess today. Hoboken cannot produce any better than Rich Del Boccio."
On a lighter note, 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, another former student of Del Boccio's, poked fun at political life by recalling an experience she had with Del Boccio when she was his student.
"Little did I know, in 1995 I'd find myself running on a ticket with Mr. Del Boccio, my English teacher from 1963. And I'm thinking back to when we read about Macbeth, about Hamlet, we read about deception, deceit, backstabbing, blood letting, and treachery. Here is Mr. Del Boccio in '63 mentoring me and preparing me for political life."
The man and his life
Del Boccio was born in Hoboken on May 22, 1940 to Joseph and Ann Del Boccio, first generation Italian immigrants whose parents had come to the states from Abruzzi and Naples in the late 1880s.
Del Boccio married his wife Victoria in 1964 and had three children with her: Joseph, Anne Margaret, and Karen.
In 1961 Del Boccio obtained a bachelors degree in history from St. Peter's College and a Master's in Education four years later from Seton Hall University.
Del Boccio's passion for education throughout his early life led him to become a teacher at Calabro.
"As a poor kid growing up downtown, I remember everybody always preaching to us to get an education and how it will open up doors and give us opportunities in life," said Del Boccio. "It was a road to a better life and I wanted to help others get on it."
In 1979, Del Boccio became principal of Calabro, where he remained until 1996.
After serving as a temporary superintendent for the Hoboken School District for seven months in 1997, Del Boccio became an adjunct professor at St. Peter's College in Jersey City, where he remained until 2004, instructing graduate students on how to become future principals and school supervisors.
Del Boccio's political career in Hoboken began in 1988 when he was elected as councilman-at-large in order to fill a seat vacated by then Councilman and soon-to-be Mayor Patrick Pasculli, who was voted into office after Mayor Thomas Vezzetti died of a heart attack earlier that year.
In 1989 he was reelected and served until 1993, when he lost to a candidate on former Mayor Anthony Russo's ticket.
In 1995, Del Boccio was invited by the mayor to join his ticket and run for the 2nd Ward Council Seat, which he won and has remained ever since.
The senior council member announced publicly late last year that he would not be running for reelection, citing past accomplishments and his faith in the members of the council to continue on the right path for Hoboken.
"A great challenge for our city has been met and 90 percent of what I wanted to see happen has already occurred," said Del Boccio. "The comeback story for Hoboken is already well known, and although there may be a few things left to be completed, most everything has been completed to my satisfaction."
In addition to his service in public education and politics, Del Boccio is also a scholarship chairman at the Hoboken Elks Club, treasurer of the St. Ann's Holy Name Society, trustee of the Hoboken Public Library, and a member of the Hoboken 9-11 Memorial Committee.
Michael Mullins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.