Richard J. Martel, the beloved and long-serving mayor of Mahwah, was laid to rest today. His long service did not go unnoticed, as an impressive crowd of family, friends, public servants and well-wishers gathered to bid him good-bye.
The service began just after 11 a.m. at the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church. The Rev. William P. Sheridan led the service in the gym of the church, to accommodate those who came to pay their respects to a man the pastor referred to as a “father, mentor, coach and sports enthusiast.”
Martel, who died after battling a respiratory illness, was remembered first by a relative, then by new Mayor John DaPuzzo, who said of his longtime friend, “We’ve lost a great man who loved this town, almost as much as we loved him.”
Lou Rizzo, former councilman and Martel’s campaign manager, explained how Martel had often spoken to him about all things Mahwah, telling him many stories, which he had come to realize were for him to share. Rizzo said the late mayor would have wanted his life celebrated.
Martel’s casket was carried out by members of the Mahwah Police Department. All of the officers present offered him a salute. He will be interred at Mayrest Cemetery on Seminary Road in Mahwah.
As DaPuzzo said, “All of us in Mahwah mourn the loss of our town father.”
Serving as mayor of the township since he was appointed in 1997, Martel was thrice elected to serve the position. His current term was set to run through November 2012.
Martel oversaw the building of the new township center, the move of the town government into that center and multiple other projects during his tenure as mayor.
Councilwoman Lisa DiGiulio said Martel “dedicated so much of his time to be involved with so many aspects of this township.”
He was actively involved in the Mahwah Sports Boosters, Library Board, Planning Board, Recreation Board and Town Council. Throughout his more than 40 years of residency in Mahwah, Martel garnered a reputation for attending many community events and being hard-working and committed to the betterment of Mahwah.
Campion said all of the municipality’s employees expressed great appreciation and fond memories of Martel, who Campion called a “great boss.”