Menendez praises Simunovich as ‘tenacious advocate’

Menendez praises Simunovich as ‘tenacious advocate’

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez is mourning the loss of his close friend, North Jersey political and civic leader Joseph Simunovich, who died Tuesday evening.

“Joe Simunovich was a dear friend, a tremendous human being and an incredible public servant, “said Menendez.  “I first met Joe when he was a Hudson County freeholder and remember fondly taking him door to door in a Cuban neighborhood that had recently been added to his district, introducing him to the community and explaining to folks that he was a good and decent guy.”

Menendez and Simunovich both launched their political careers in Hudson County in the early 1970s.  Simunovich was appointed to the Board of Freeholders in December 1973 and Menendez won a seat on the Union City Board of Education in April 1974.

“Joe was incredibly generous and often quietly helped people in need without ever seeking the limelight or recognition,” Menendez said.  “He was slow to anger, warm and humble, and, despite being a tenacious advocate for the issues he believed in.  Joe was widely respected and often called upon to work as an intermediary and bring people together.

In a statement released today, Menendez paid tribute to Simunovich’s post-political career as president of Suez Water Resources and co-chair of Hackensack Meridian. the state’s largest health network.  Simunovich helped launch New Jersey’s newest medical school in partnership with Seton Hall University, Menendez said.

“Throughout his life, including holding several positions in public and elected office, Joe was determined to improve the lives of his fellow New Jerseyans,” the senator said.

Simunovich was a prominent New Jersey Democratic fundraiser and helped numerous candidates over the years, including Menendez.

“Not only did Joe serve as my finance chair on each of my Senate campaigns and often provide me with sage advice and counsel throughout my career, I was most proud to call him a dear, dear friend,” said Menendez.  “Joe will be deeply missed by all who knew him, but we take solace in the fond memories and profound legacy he’s left behind.  My heart goes out to his wife Pam, his daughter Tracy and her husband Steve, grandchildren Steven, Christopher, Andrew and Kevin, and the entire Simunovich family.”