They came. They saw. They honored.
That was the scenario at the recent brunch honoring Deputy Mayor John Bueckner’s 20 years of public service at the Waterside Restaurant in North Bergen on Nov. 17. His term ends Dec. 31.
There was literally a line of well wishers at the microphone to praise a man many cannot talk about Secaucus without mentioning.
In the political arena, his service includes 20 years on the Town Council, including the last four as deputy mayor and summer concert series organizer.
In education, he was a Board of Education trustee for 12 years, including four as president and a school system substitute teacher.
In recreation, it was 34 years of involvement in Build Better Boys Baseball and 25 years in girls’ recreation softball.
In religion, it was 40 years on the St. Matthew Lutheran Church Council, including time as president, as well as 38 years as the church’s nursery school director.
Religious and friends
Pastor Nancy Ruckert of St. Matthews has been associated with Bueckner for six and half years, and believes she knows him well.
“He’s very loyal to his cause,” she said. “Whatever he sees as a need he will do whatever he needs to make it happen.”
Flo Tarantino of St. Matthews knows the U.S. Army veteran even longer, more than 50 years, and also believes she has a good fix on what Bueckner stands for.
“His quality is he adjusts to every situation,” she said. “He knows had to handle difficult situations. He takes one and turns it into something good.”
“He’s very loyal to his cause. Whatever he sees as a need, he will do whatever he needs to make it happen.” – Pastor Nancy Ruckert
“He’s an intelligent type of fellow,” Bruno said. “He doesn’t just go with what the mayor or majority wants. He uses his own mind. He’s very thoughtful, and he studies the issues before he votes.”
Gonnelli and Clancy
Mayor Michael Gonnelli applauded the retired Lucent Technologies business systems analyst for always going “above and beyond” in every cause, including the town’s emergency fund for those in need.
“It’s a celebration for us,” he said. “But also a sad day.”
Gonnelli lauded Bueckner’s individuality on the town’s governing body.
“He’s been an independent voice in every administration, including this one,” he said, “and his is truly the most independent.”
But while Bueckner is retiring from an official political presence in Secaucus, he’s not leaving altogether. He will continue to run Secaucus’ successful summer concert series, and will work to open the town’s first museum.
“So we have a lot of plans for John,” Gonnelli said.
“More than any town official, I’m going to miss John on the Council,” said Councilman James Clancy, discussing his 2nd Ward “teammate.”
“John was never one to seek the political spotlight or self-promotion,” Clancy said. “He always did what was in the best interests of the community. John represents all that is good about politics.”
Entering political sunset
When it was first announced in June that he would not seek reelection in this year’s race, Bueckner was reflective, but had no regrets.
“I feel bad, but I think I can walk away with my head up,” he said.
At a September “Take Back Secaucus” brunch, he had similar thoughts.
“It was a good run, I had a lot of good years,” Bueckner said.
In an interview last week, he praised everyone he had come in contact with during his career in public service, saying he appreciated their efforts.
“I want to thank my fellow council members and the people who worked for the town – employees, vendors, contractors, and all others – for their help and cooperation over the years,” he said.
Bueckner will keep himself busy with a summer home, where he and his wife Madeline (nee Kraszyk) will spend more time now. He will also have the opportunity to spend more time with daughters Renee and Dayna, their spouses, and his four grandchildren.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.