Category Archives: Joe Azzolina

Former Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina led charge for Battleship New Jersey


From NJ.com –

MONMOUTH COUNTY — Former Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, a former Navy reserve captain who served 24 years in the legislature, relished his effort to bring New Jersey’s namesake battleship back home.
“He never got the salt out of his veins from serving in the Navy,” said Assemblyman Sam Thompson (R-Middlesex), who spent eight years representing the same district as Azzolina.
Azzolina, 84, a longtime Republican lawmaker from Monmouth County, died Thursday night at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City from complications related to a December surgery for pancreatic cancer. His three sons were by his side.
“He was a great mentor to his family, friends and people that surrounded him,” said his son, Joseph Azzolina, Jr.
Azzolina served in the occupation forces in Europe after World War II and in the Korean War. He remained in the naval reserve until the 1980s, when he served an eight month stint aboard the U.S.S. New Jersey. He later led the charge to refurbish the ship and bring to the Garden State. It sits as a museum in the Delaware River in Camden.
Azzolina, a Republican from Middletown, was first elected to the Assembly in 1965, where he served until moving up to the state Senate from 1972 to 1974. He returned to the Assembly from 1986 to 1988, and again from 1992 to 2006.
Azzolina was born in Newark and grew up in Highlands, over a candy store his parents owned. He opened a grocery store called the Food Basket with his father in 1950 and expanded it into Food Circus Supermarkets, a chain that today has 10 stores. He also owned the Courier, a weekly newspaper that covered the Bayshore area.
State Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) said he first heard of Azzolina from his fourth grade teacher.
“Little did I know that I would go on to work in his supermarket as a teenager and to serve side by side with him in the Legislature,” he said.
State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), who was Azzolina’s chief of staff in the 1990s, said he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food from his supermarkets to local charities.
“To the chagrin maybe of some of his management, he never said no,” she said. “At one point I asked him if he wanted to write a press release. He looked at me and said ‘No, I don’t do it for that reason.’”
Beck said Azzolina established the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Program, which treats sexual assault victim and trains nurses in the collection of forensic evidence.
Calling hours will be held Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. and Thursday from 2-8 p.m. at Saint Mary’s Mother of God Church in Middletown. The burial service is set for Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the church.

(picture Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina and son Joseph Jr.)

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Filed under Battleship New Jersey, Joe Azzolina, Monmouth County, NJ State Assembly

1926-2010 Bayshore Legend & Former NJ Statesman Joseph Azzolina Sr. Passes Away


It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of a true NJ Statesman, Entrepreneur, philanthropist and Bayshore Legend Joseph Azzolina Sr.

“Big” Joe Azzolina served Middletown and the Norhtern Monmouth bayshore regione in both the NJ State Senate and Assembly serving in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1992-2006 where he represented the 13th legislative district. He also served in the Assembly from 1986-1988 and from 1966-1972. Azzolina also served in the upper house of the New Jersey Legislature, the New Jersey Senate, from 1972-1973.

Mr. Azzolina served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1944-1986, Captain (Retired).[1] As a reservist, he returned to active duty in 1983 for a tour of seven months – four of them off the coast of Lebanon – aboard the battleship USS New Jersey. He received three Meritorious Service Medals and two Navy Secretary Commendation Medals in addition to other combat awards and honors. As an Asemblyman, Azzolina led the effort to acquire the retired ship and have it docked in New Jersey waters where it has been transformed to a floating museum.

Joe Azzolina was also the founder and President of Food Circus Super Markets, which has many locations through out Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Mr. Azzolina received a B.S. from Holy Cross College in (Naval Science) and attended the New York University Graduate School of Business where he earned his Masters Degree.

Joe will be missed greatly by all who know him.

I had the opportunity to meet him on several occasions and he was always a gentleman and was someone I grew to admire even though I really did not know him well. He always greeted me with a warm smile and a big hello whenever our paths crossed.

Joe Azzolina leaves behind his wife Lynn Azzolina and his six children sons Joe Jr.,Mark, Greg, John and daughters Mary Anne and Judith.

Mr. Azzolina was predeceased by another son Paul when the child was seven years old.

There is no news as of yet on funeral arrangements.

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Filed under food circus, Joe Azzolina, super markets

Azzolina may sell liquor license in Middletown

Another brutal court fight ends with Middletown coming out as the loser.
Back in 1998, before all the infighting and bad blood between life long resident and former NJ State Asemblyman Joe Azzolina and the Republicans that run Middletown, the township issued a 3rd liquor license to Mr. Azzolina’s company, Circus Liquors Inc. 
In 2005 when the battle over Mr. Azzolina’s “Town Center” project was boiling over, Middletown “realized” that the 3rd liqour license that they issued was illegal because the State limits the number of licenses a person or company can hold to two, so they wanted it back.
Mr. Azzolina said “No”, he paid the town for it, it was his and he would sell it. 
This of course sparked another lengthy and expensive court fight, that the township hoped would force the Azzolina family to cave in under yet another retaliatory, expense and pressure filled, drawn out legal battle.
Last year it seemed that Middeltown won the battle when the State Appellate Court ruled in favor of Middletown.  Not conceding that the battle was lost, Joe Azzolina appealed the case to the State Supreme Court.
So, in today’s Asbury Park Press comes word that the Supreme Courts has made it’s decision. 
The Justices ruled unanimously yesterday to overturn the lower courts ruling, which would have allowed Middeltown to confiscate the illegal liquor license and sell it to another party.  
Once again Joe Azzolina comes out on top and wins the war. He can now sell the lquor license himself. 
No doubt, this loss cost Middletown big time legal fees that could have gone to better uses if they would have just swallowed their pride and allowed Azzolina to sell the license himself in the first place. But because of the hard feelings and bad blood between the ruling Middeltown GOP and the Azzolina family over “Town Center” they decided to fight him in court.
This is just another example of how the Republicans have screwed Middletown over the years. And when you think of it, the one to have made out the most from this is Bernie Reilly, the Township Attorney, it must have made him a fortune. 

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Joe Azzolina, liquor license, Middletown Republicans, state supreme court, Town Center

Extra Extra Read All About It – The Courier Is Sold To New Owner

Yesterday was a sad day after I read the post on Melissa Gaffney’s blog Sableminded about the April 1st demise of the Courier newspaper.
I have been a fan of the Courier for  a long time, and have been lending this blog to the online version of it for a number of months now. At one point I was considering having MiddletownMike visitors redirected to the Courier version of this blog. I had been hearing for quite awhile that the Courier was in trouble and that it’s future was in question, but I had thought and hope that the paper would somehow survive and live on in some form or another, but due to that uncertainty  the redirect just never seemed to happen.
When the Courier’s publisher Jim Purcell announced that the Courier was only going to publish bi-weekly and that through a partnership with Rutgers University, it was going to attempt to survive on-line as a web based publication, I was at first disheartened.  I became encouraged a few weeks later however when I was told by Jim that it looked like the web based model was going to work out, revenue had already increased over the previous months due to the new venture with Rutgers.
So, when I heard a couple of weeks ago that the Azzolina family had changed their mind and no longer desired to be in the news business it came as a mild shock, if they couldn’t find a buyer they were going to shutdown operations.  I didn’t quite want to believe it, after all the paper seemed to be on track to  profitability once again. Needless to say then, that when I stopped by the office to say hello, it was a rather gloomy place.  
Today though, when I returned home from work and logged onto the blog I noticed  the headline on the Courier widget “The Courier is sold to new owner“, my spirits were lifted.
I don’t know who has brought the Courier or whether or not that they intend to keep the online version up and running, but I am happy that they did. It would have been a real loss to the bayshore if the paper had folded, the Courier after all has been a staple of northern Monmouth County for since 1955. 
As for MiddletownMike’s future with the Courier, I don’t have an answer for that just yet. I need to make a few phone calls to see what the future may hold. I am just glad that the paper did not fade away like so many others have done lately.
I am also happy to think that some of the people at the Courier, who have become my friends, may now not have to worry about losing their jobs and finding employment elsewhere. I hope  

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Filed under Bayshore, blogs, demise of newspapers, Jim Purcell, Joe Azzolina, Melissa Gaffney, Monmouth County, Rutgers University, Sableminded, The Courier, web-based publication