LONGTIME LEGISLATOR JOE AZZOLINA, 84

joe-azzolinaJoe Azzolina at Red Bank’s centennial picnic in May, 2008. (Click to enlarge)

Middletown’s Joe Azzolina, a supermarket executive who who served in Trenton as both a state Senator and Assembly member and was instrumental in bringing the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey to berth in the state, died Thursday at the age of 84, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Azzolina, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, died at 6:10p at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, where he had been for several months, his son, Joseph Azzolina Jr., told the newspaper.

He had served three separate stints as an Assemblyman, totaling 22 years in that chamber, as well as a two-year term in the state Senate, according to a Wikipedia entry.

Among the stores under the umbrella of the family-owned Food Circus company, which he ran for decades, was the Super Foodtown in Red Bank.

From the Press:

A Republican, Azzolina represented the 13th district in the state Assembly from 1992 to 2006. He was initially elected to the Assembly in 1965, serving until 1972; he served in the state Senate for next two years. He returned to the Assembly from 1986 to 1988.

A World War II and Korean War veteran who served for decades in the U.S. Naval Reserve before retiring with the rank of captain, Azzolina worked to bring the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey back to the state.

Azzolina headed the Food Circus Super Markets company and had owned the Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Middletown and covering the Bayshore area.

Funeral services have yet to be determined, but likely will occur some time next week, Joseph Azzolina Jr. said.

The elder Azzolina was most proud of his service as a captain in the Naval Reserve, his son said.

“My father took care of people,” the younger Azzolina said. “He was my mentor. Mine and everyone else in our family.”