Former Ocean Township Councilman and Mayor James R. Garrity Sr. died Nov. 29 with his family by his side at his home in Stuart, Florida. He was 75 years old.
“Jim was a great guy. He was a good husband, a good father and he loved Ocean Township,” former Mayor Richard English said earlier this week.
Garrity held several township elected offices, including serving 25 years as a councilman and one four-year term as mayor.
English said that Garrity was on the Township Council when he became mayor in in 1979. Eight years later, when English stepped down, Garrity then became the mayor in 1987 and served one term until 1991.
“His father was also mayor at one time so he was carrying on a family tradition when he became mayor. I think that is what he wanted to do and I can understand that, personally,” he said
Like many people, English said he knew Garrity best through his gas station, Garrity’s Exxon in Wanamassa, on Sunset Avenue, adjacent to the old firehouse on Wickapecko Drive.
He said Garrity was very involved in the Wanamassa fire department and that his gas station was a local meeting place for residents.
“A lot of people went there. He had great customers and he worked hard his entire life. His death is a big loss to the township- big time. The Garrity name was very well-known in Ocean Township and Jimmy always set his own path,” he said.
Current Ocean Township Mayor Christopher Siciliano also said Garrity was a “great guy” and had qualities that he tries to emulate to this day.
“He was pretty much the epitome of what a mayor.should be back then and he was very much involved in the township. He is a model that I still try to follow to this day- he had a very organic approach,” he said.
Siciliano agreed that Garrity’s gas station was a great place to meet and talk.
“He was a very approachable and I am sorry to see him go. He was a long-time serving member on the council,” he said.
Former Mayor William Larkin- the longest-serving mayor in township history- said he, too, regrets the passing of Garrity.
“Jim’s a long-time friend. He was a good political leader in the township and extremely involved in the community- in every aspect of it. And I am sad to hear he passed away. Jim has been in the township a long time and his dad was involved in politics- the whole family was involved,” he said.
And Larkin agreed that his gas station was a focal point in Garrity’s life.
“You couldn’t pass it without stopping and chatting,” he said.
Born in Asbury Park, Garrity spent most of his life in Ocean Township where he and his sister, Nancy, were raised by their parents, Doris and James Garrity.
Garrity was a graduate of Asbury Park High School where he played varsity basketball and baseball. He then graduated from Monmouth College in 1964 and married Sandy Spino in the same year. The couple remained in Ocean Township for 40 years where they raised a family and were very active in the community before retiring to Hobe Sound, Florida in 2003. Garrity loved hunting, fishing, boating and golf. Garrity also coached sports and volunteered at the Wanamassa Fire Department.
Services will be held on Friday, Dec. at 2 p.m. at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Hobe Sound, Florida. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made in Jim’s name to Vanderbilt – Ingram Cancer Center.