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Edison honors Frank Greco

EDISON — The saying “age is nothing but a number” rings true when it comes to Frank Greco.

“Mr. [Fred] Wolke and I always say that Frank is like the energizer bunny,” Lois Wolke said reflecting on her long-time friend. “He just keeps going and going and going.”

The Edison Township Council honored Greco, who will be 92 this year, for contributing significant time and care to the township and for his tenured service with the township Open Space Advisory Committee with a proclamation at a meeting in December.

“We’ve been on a lot of walking tours with him that Walt Stochel organizes,” Wolke said. “A couple weeks ago we were on [a walking tour] and we’re all walking along and we’re all a lot younger than he is. All of a sudden [Frank] bends down and he runs across to a trash can like a 40 year old.”

Wolke said she candidly asked Greco what his secret was to staying young.

“Spicy food and a lot of garlic,” Wolke recalled Greco answering for his fountain of youth.

Greco was born in Staten Island, New York in 1926 and joined the United States Navy in 1944 at 17.

During World War II, Greco served in the Navy Armed Guard on the Liberty Ship SS Harold D. Whitehead. After his service Greco returned home to work as an ironworker, longshoreman and teamster.

Greco volunteers with the Navy League American Legion Teamsters Retirees, Middlesex Greenway Coalition and is a lifetime supporter and volunteer of the New Jersey Folk Festival.

He continues his education out of efforts to promote greater understanding of the environment and he has worked to have Short Hills Battlefield on Woodland Avenue in Edison recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

Those who know Greco shared fond memories of their friend, who they have come to admire for his work with the environment as well for his service to the country.

“I’ve known Frank for 20 years or so and he’s an interesting man … he sets high standard for all us youngsters,” resident Bruce Diamond said. “He really is part of the greatest generation.”

Robert Takash, president of the Edison Greenways Group, said the proclamation is an accolade for Edison’s treasured personality.

“[Frank] has been a stellar active citizen in his community and his non-profit involvement and support has been legendary,” he said.

Takash said he has witnessed and admired Greco’s contributions to the environment.

“With the Edison open space advisory committee, he helped us secure 900 acres for the township,” he said adding that Greco is a very dynamic volunteer and has been an inspiration to so many.

Walter Stochel, chair of the township’s open space advisory committee and vice-president of the Edison Greenways Group, thanked the council for recognizing Greco’s nine decades of good deeds.

“I first met Frank 18 years ago at the Oak Tree Pond rally and over the next few years he was a key member of the Oak Tree Pond group,” he said. “Since 2004, he has been an active member of Edison’s open space advisory committee.”

Stochel said Greco is one of the busiest persons he has ever met.

“He always has something going on,” he said.

Councilman Robert Diehl, who presented the proclamation to Greco, said he too was on an eco-tour with Stochel and Greco on the Raritan River ravine.

“There was a hill, more like a cliff than a hill, and Walter scrambles up it and you know I wasn’t going to be undone and I scramble up it and then Frank scrambles up it quicker than both of us,” Diehl recalled. “I was 50 at time and Frank was 80 … you have to go on an eco-tour with this man, it’s just the most amazing thing.”

Diehl said much like Jane Tousman, who was tireless in her efforts as a staunch advocate for Edison’s 1,240 –acre Dismal Swamp Conservation area, Greco gave so much to the town. Tousman passed away in 2014.

“Jane never asked for anything for herself, she asked to help us do things,” he said adding that Greco is the same way.

Greco accepted the kind sentiments and proclamation.

“I’m wondering if they are talking about me or someone else to be honest with you,” he quipped. His comment brought laughter from his friends.

Greco said Edison is a great place and there were many reasons to give back to the township including its educational system, the council and the people, who he has gone on hikes with.

“It’s just a great location all the way around,” he said. “I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Greco said he did have one environmental request.

“When we go on these hikes and Walter gives us handle grips for the empty water bottles, please don’t throw those empty water bottles in the briars, throw them on the trail, we’ll pick them up,” he said.

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