By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
EAST WINDSOR — Ask Joseph Harvie’s friends what they remember most about him and they’ll say it was his infectious laugh, his love of music, his tenacity as a reporter, his empathy and most of all — his humility.
The 36-year-old former reporter for The South Brunswick Post and The Cranbury Press, who was also a dedicated bicyclist, died Saturday after the bicycle he was riding was struck by a car on Route 33/Mercer Street at Airport Road in East Windsor Township, according to published reports. The accident occurred around noon.
Mr. Harvie and the motorist were both traveling south on Route 33/Mercer Street when Mr. Harvie attempted to make a left turn onto Airport Road and was struck by the car, driven by 64-year-old Jake Hopfinger of Hightstown. He was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton Township, where he died several hours later.
Mr. Harvie, who grew up in Monroe Township and graduated from Monroe Township High School, had served as the township’s public information officer for the past nine years. He worked as a staff writer for The South Brunswick Post and The Cranbury Press from 2003 to 2007.
Mr. Harvie’s friends and former co-workers were stunned by the news of his death.
“Joe was the definition of a great guy,” said Hank Kalet, who was the editor of The South Brunswick Post and The Cranbury Post and who hired Mr. Harvie.
“If you asked yourself what you expected from a friend or colleague, he was it. He was gregarious and fun to hang with. He loved music and hockey and he was a talented guy, overall,” Mr. Kalet said.
“The thing that strikes me about him more than anything was he was a bulldog. Joe brought a tenaciousness and inquisitiveness to the table. If you haven’t done this job (as a reporter), you might think all you need to be is a great writer. The truth is, you need to be a force of nature,” Mr. Kalet said.
Mr. Harvie knew what needed to be done, and he did it, Mr. Kalet said. He did whatever was needed to get the story done. Editors can rewrite copy, but they cannot do the reporting for the reporter, and he never needed to do that with Mr. Harvie, he said.
Princeton Packet Managing Editor Aubrey Huston agreed that “Joe Harvie was dedicated to serving his community, whether it was reporting for The Packet newspapers or working for Monroe Township.” Mr. Harvie’s fiancee, Eileen Oldfield, is a former Packet staffer, as well, he said.
Elaine Worden-Tedesco and Maria Prato recalled Mr. Harvie’s infectious laugh. It was the kind of laugh that was so joyful and bounding and fun that you could not help but laugh along with it, said Ms. Worden-Tedesco, who worked with him at the newspapers and who was a classmate at Rowan University.
“He loved strange music and comic book characters and had this compulsive laugh — but that’s what made Joe so great,” Ms. Prato said. She met Mr. Harvie when she began covering Monroe Township in 2007 for The Cranbury Press and he was the township’s public information officer.
Ms. Prato said he took her under his wing, and was an advisor, sounding board and sometimes just a shoulder to cry on as she learned the ropes as a young reporter. He was generous and helped her in innumerable ways, she said.
John Saccenti, who was an editor at The South Brunswick Post and The Cranbury Press, also described Mr. Harvie as generous and always willing to help others who were in need. In fact, he volunteered the newspapers’ office staff to help out at the South Brunswick Township-sponsored food pantry, Mr. Saccenti said.
Mr. Harvie loved to tell stories — whether it was in print or video. He learned how to make videos, and was a filmmaker. For Mr. Harvie, a video was just another way of getting a story out to the public. It was one of his passions, Mr. Saccenti said.
And he carried that passion for storytelling through videos to his job as Monroe Township’s public information officer. Monroe Township Mayor Gerald Tamburro described Mr. Harvie as the “innovator of the township’s video department.”
Mr. Harvie videotaped the Monroe Township Council meetings, as well as special programs and events that occurred in the township, the mayor said. He was also a gifted writer who put together The Monroe News, which is sent to each household in the township four times per year, the mayor added.
But most of all, Mr. Harvie’s friends say it is his humility that they admired. He was humble and “never bragged about the things he did to raise money for those in need,” said former co-worker and sports writer Rich Fisher. He rode his bicycle 100 miles to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“Joe was never out to impress the world, and he never seemed to want to be anything else but a good soul. I think he achieved that during his short time on this mortal coil, and I will dearly miss him more than I will ever be able to put into words,” Ms. Prato said.
By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer