Anthony Cruz, Jersey City Activist, Deputy Mayor, Dept. Director, dies at 61

It is with great sadness that the Cruz family announces the death of our brother, Anthony Cruz, 61, of Jersey City on Thursday, May 26.

Anthony’s career in public service spanned four decades and is exemplary in its length and breadth. His activism began in high school when he was part of student-led demonstrations calling for more Latino guidance counselors. As president of the Jersey City Tenants Union, he led a rent strike that exposed absentee landlords and slumlords, forcing action from city officials. He was a fighter for social and economic justice for communities of color and small businesspeople in Jersey City and Hudson County.

He was a trusted governmental advisor and political strategist to mayors, county executives, state legislators, United States senators and other political leaders from across the state. He served as Deputy Mayor in the historic administration of Glenn D. Cunningham in 2001, helping to breathe new life into the historic downtown special improvement district, spearheading an effort to restore the historic clocks on the pedestrian plaza on Newark Avenue and promoting progressive programs on affordable housing and home ownership for Jersey City residents. As director of Housing and Economic Development for the city he helped to revitalize inner city residential communities and commercial districts in Bergen Lafayette with programs that improved home facades and small shop storefronts, allowing longtime residents to share in the city’s progress. He served as director of Housing and Economic Development under two Jersey City mayors.

A proud Puerto Rican, Anthony was part of a delegation led by Senator John Corzine, on whose staff he served, which traveled to the Puerto Rican island of Vieques to bring attention to the US military’s environmentally-disastrous abuse of the island. Anthony was arrested with other Jersey City activists, demonstrating against the use of Vieques as a bomb-testing range in 2000.

“My father’s life was historic. The number of people he directly impacted in public and private is beyond measure,” said Anthony Cruz, Jr. “We mourn his loss. His absence will be profound and difficult to bear, but we celebrate, and take great pride in knowing, that he was a caring, honest, and humble man, a great father, uncle, brother, son and abuelo, who put his heart into serving other people without regard to personal accolades or financial gain. That is how he will be remembered.”

Anthony is survived by his son, Anthony, Jr.; grandson, Anthony III; longtime partner Heather Hanks and siblings Rafael, Jose, Elizabeth, Roberto, Madeline, Jorge, David, William, Agustin, Diana and Jason, sisters-in-law Candy and Peachy and brothers-in-law Melvin, Blake and David as well as his mother, Isabel.

A Go Fund Me page has been established to help defray the large medical bills incurred (https://gofund.me/bccb7b34)

Anthony was an organ donor and the family encourages others to make organ donation arrangements through the Sharing Network, NJSharingNetwork.org.

Viewing will be Tuesday, May 31, 7-10 pm at Riotto Funeral Home, 3205 JFK Boulevard, in Jersey City. A funeral mass will be held Wednesday, 10 am, at St. Michael’s Church, 252 9th Street, in Jersey City, followed by interment at Bayview Cemetery, in Greenville.

 

 

 

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