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Joseph Wiliam Bonin, March 18, 1931 – October 9, 2023, Beloved husband, wonderful father, grandfather, and friend. Passed peacefully in his home in Sarasota, Fl. Lived in Barnegat NJ after spending many wonderful years with his wife and family in Maplewood, NJ.
Joseph W. Bonin, 92, entered eternal life with God and was reunited with his beloved wife Rita on October 9, 2023.
Joseph was born in Jersey City, NJ to Joseph Aloysius Bonin and Klara Joehren Bonin on March 18, 1931. His parents immigrated from Germany and became proud US citizens. The family resided at times in Jersey City, Garfield NJ and Highland NY before settling in Wyckoff NJ.
Growing up during the depression, Joseph and his siblings didn’t have much, but their parents instilled in them a strong sense of family, work ethic and morality that would later define Joseph’s best qualities and make him a person of true character, respected and admired by family, friends, and all who knew him.
As teenagers, Joseph and his brothers, Herb, and Rudy, were part of the Garfield Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps (now “The Cadets”) with whom they won the National Championship. Up until his death Joseph fondly recalled traveling across the country in buses, often playing concerts for those they met in exchange for food or lodging. After graduating high school Joseph entered the US Army where he served stateside during the Korean war, putting his skills in finance and project management to assist in the effort. After the Army Joseph took work as an insurance broker serving a 15-state territory.
During this time Joseph came home and took a break one winter night and did something, he admitted, that was not the norm for him; he decided to go to a bar and relax. There, in that West Orange bar, he met the love of his life Rita Camille of Maplewood NJ. Their first date was at a boat show, and although he never bought a boat, from that moment on they were inseparable. Engaged a year later, they married on October 2, 1959. Rita and Joe had three children: Christopher Sr., Lisa, and Gregory, raising their children in the beautiful town of Maplewood, NJ. They celebrated over 60 years of marriage before Rita’s passing in 2020.
In 1964, with the encouragement of his wife, Joseph entered and won the election to become Maplewood’s Tax Collector. Within a few years he was appointed Comptroller and Purchasing Agent. He spent over 30 years working for the Township, retiring as Chief Financial Officer in 1994, a highly regarded financial professional in the community.
Joseph was asked by the State of New Jersey in the early 1970’s to join with other respected local public officials to help write the State’s first purchasing laws. He spent the next 20 years as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University, instructing upcoming local purchasing and finance officials in the application of the laws he helped create. Always the consummate professional, Joseph participated in both the statewide Governing Finance Officials Association and the NJ Tax Collectors and Treasurers Association. He rose to be President of these associations and continued his relationship with both after his retirement.
As lifelong members of St. Joseph’s Church in Maplewood, Rita and Joe were active in their faith, taking on multiple roles including Lector and co-trustees of the Parish Council. He continued to serve as a lector at St. Mary’s parish in Barnegat when they relocated.
While living in Maplewood, Rita and Joseph had an enormous circle of wonderful friends that we should all envy. They were active in the local government, PTA, UNICO and several community organizations. He was a past president of the Maplewood Lion’s Club, assisting in the many philanthropic activities of the organization.
Joseph was a man of many talents and accomplishments. He could work all day at the municipal building and then come home to fix a car, repair a broken dishwasher (he could fix anything!) or build an addition on the house. But nothing compared to the vast amount of love he had for his wife, children, grandchildren and his dear nieces and nephews. He was an endless source of love, advice, and support to all, especially in their time of need. Just having a simple conversation with Joseph would help make someone feel better. He had a way of letting you know everything would be ok, and you knew he would always be there for you.
Not typically demonstrative with his emotions (he was German after all!), Joseph softened in his later years, especially as grandchildren entered his life. In their presence, he acted silly, played games, and seemed to be living a new life through theirs. “Poppy Joe” always wanted to know what they were up to and was proud of the tremendous young adults they have become. He so enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. And although he would never admit it, he even enjoyed playing with his grand-dogs.
After retirement Joseph and Rita moved to Barnegat NJ, while also enjoying many years “snow birding” to their second home in Sarasota, Florida. His parents purchased a house there in 1965, retiring with many of their friends from Germany. Joseph purchased the Florida house after the passing of his father. In 2021, Joseph moved permanently into the Sarasota house with his daughter Lisa and her spouse Trudy. It was here, in the house that held so many wonderful family memories, that Joseph died peacefully in his sleep. There could have been no more fitting place for his passing.
Joseph is survived by his loving children Christopher Sr., Lisa and her wife Trudy Garrett, Gregory and his wife Elaine; his grandchildren Joseph, Nicole, Jessica and Christopher Jr.; and his sister Mary Reitz, along with many loving nieces and nephews.
He is predeceased by, and now reunited with, his adoring wife Rita, his parents Joseph and Klara Bonin, and his much-loved siblings and their spouses: Ursula and Bill Stupp, Rudy and Mary Bonin, Howard Reitz (sister Mary’s husband), and Herb and Carol Bonin. He will also be greeted in heaven by Rita’s sisters and their husbands: Marie and Lou Egidio, and Ann and Lou Bippus. The Thanksgiving table in heaven this year will again be full of laughter, playful arguments, and jug wine.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend his Visitation on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 from 4 to 8 pm at Barnegat Funeral Home, 841 West Bay Ave., Barnegat NJ 08005. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Thursday, 11:00 AM at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, 747 West Bay Ave., Barnegat. Interment to follow in St. Mary's Cemetery, Manahawkin. (www.BarnegatFH.com)
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joseph’s memory to the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corp: (www.cadets.org).