Yet Another Article…

Uncle Paul has officially taken over my blog. :-)   My Uncle Greg just emailed me this article.  I enjoy reading all the nice things people say about Uncle Paul.  They make me smile, laugh and cry.

Councilman Paul MacDonald, a ‘Fighter,’ Dies After Long Illness

Elected Official Performed his Job Even as he Battled Cancer

  Paul J. MacDonald
Paul J. MacDonald Credit Courtesy of the Township of Belleville
Paul J. MacDonald, who was in the midst of his first term on the Belleville Township Council and was affiliated with many Essex County Irish-American organizations, died last night at home after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

“P.J.” MacDonald, as he was known, was a lifelong township resident who loved his family, politics and especially his ethnic heritage, said officials and others who knew him. He also struggled bravely against his illness, attending council meetings and trying to take part in the activities of Irish-American organizations even as he underwent treatments, many of his council colleagues noted.

“He was a good person. As much as he was in pain, he still did his job …. He was a solider,” said Councilwoman Marie Burke. “This man was really hurting but he put the town first. He’ll really be sorely missed.”

Councilman Kevin Kennedy, a long-serving member of the governing body, was a friend of MacDonald’s for years before MacDonald was elected to the council from the Third Ward in 2008. Kennedy said MacDonald was a gregarious man who had so many friends Kennedy  was “surprised he didn’t get into politics sooner.”

“When he did get on the council, he wanted to do good things so much,” Kennedy said. “When Paul got on, he inspired me. I’m really very sad. This town without question is going to miss Paul MacDonald.”

“There were two rotten things that happened since I’ve been on the council: the death of a police officer and this,” Kennedy said, referring to Officer Kenneth Santucci, who died when his police car crashed in September 2008. Kennedy also said MacDonald was the first sitting council member to pass away since the early 20th century.

Kennedy also said MacDonald, who announced his illness publicly, was trying to live long enough to be honored March 8 by the Brian Boru Association at Mayfair Farms in West Orange. That date had significance for Thomas Murphy, the Belleville township attorney and another friend of MacDonald’s.

“I said to him, March 8th is the 40th anniversary of the [Joe] Frazier-[Muhammad] Ali fight,” said Murphy, whose father also knew MacDonald well. “I said to him ‘You’re a fighter too, Paul. It’s fitting.’ ”

Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin, whose family was also close to MacDonald and whom Durkin knew “my whole life, really,” remembered the councilman as a “presence, a comforting and powerful presence.” Like Kennedy, Durkin also recalled MacDonald’s decision to kick off a political career at a stage when many people have begun their retirement.

“What was interesting was that he decided to run for office so late in life, at age 67,” Durkin said. “It was an amazing campaign … some people didn’t think he was going to make it to election day. He inspired so many people. Just an all-around great guy.”

Another lifelong friend, Tom McEnery, referred to MacDonald as “a father figure, a big brother” who was in McEnery’s “corner during tough times.” McEnery, a Belleville native who now lives in Nutley, said his father used to frequent the tavern MacDonald once owned on Washington Avenue.

McEnery was among many who also said MacDonald, through his example, helped him get in touch with his Irish heritage. McEnery is an officer with the Nutley Irish American Alliance.  

“He wasn’t from Ireland, but he loved everything Irish,” McEnery said. “He wore Irish sneakers, Irish shorts, loved Irish music.” McEnery also said MacDonald, who served as the president of the Belleville Irish American Association, helped rejuvenate that group and advised McEnery on managing the Nutley Irish group.

MacDonald was a longtime member and officer of the Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, was on the Board of Governors of the Giblin Association, and belonged to the Ironbound Irish American Association, the Cryan Association, the McGovern Association, the Belleville Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Montclair.

Along with receiving the Brian Boru award, MacDonald served as the deputy grand marshal of Nutley’s 29th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and was named Essex County Irishman of the Year. In 2010, he received the Kevin G. Kennedy Association Community Service Award.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, MacDonald was a retired sheriff’s officer who worked at the Essex County Jail Annex for several years.

He is survived by his wife, Janet Boyd MacDonald, his daughters Colleen of Belleville, Aileen Millar and her husband Patrick of Kearny, and Sheila Lisi of Belleville. He is also survived by  grandchildren Allison, Gianna, Janet, Michela, John and Katelyn, and a great-grandson, Brandon.  

Funeral services will be held Monday, Jan. 17 at noon at St. Peter’s Church, 155 William St. Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral from the O’Boyle Funeral Home, 309 Broad St. in Bloomfield on Monday at 11 a.m. Visitation will be on Saturday and Sunday, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. both days.

Categories: Life

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