OCEAN TOWNSHIP: On Friday, Senator Jennifer Beck and Wayside Elementary School Principal Denise Palaia welcomed local, county and state officials and the third grade students and school staff as they announced that Feb. 3 will henceforth be called "Senator Joseph Palaia Day" in the Garden State. Two tall lilac trees will be planted at the school in his memory.
Principal Denise Palaia, the late Senator Palaia's daughter spoke of her father telling about his work and particularly his dedication to education and the children he served through all his years. The ceremony prepared by Principal Palaia included a slide presentation in photographs and with appropriate recorded music in lyrics and tune to the years of Senator Palaia's life.
Senator Palaia passed from this life in August of 2016. The graphic presentation referenced the many roles he had held along the way. The local lad was born and raised and a Student in Neptune schools, a Graduate of Ryder College and Rutgers University, a Teacher, Coach and Principal in Ocean schools, Mayor in Ocean, Freeholder in Monmouth County, NJ Assemblyman and President Pro Temp in the NJ Senate where he served on the SenateEducation Committee.
He was married to the former Wedell Simon until her passing. Together, they had two children: son Joseph Jr. who passed in 2016, and daughter Denise.
Among his other titles, the slide presentation certified were: Husband, Father, Son, Uncle, and Pop. The word most used in talking about the Senator was "caring." In the music accompanying the slide was the song "Nature Boy" sung by Nat King Cole. On the slide as it came to view were the lyrics "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
Those words lingered in the air as Daughter Denise Palaia told the gathering that "this day was his birthday."
How fitting that the third graders were there on Friday with his family and friends.