Friends remember former Old Bridge mayor, freeholder Art Haney

OLD BRIDGE — For those who knew Art Haney, who passed away last week, his passion for Old Bridge was undeniable.

“Art was and continued to be involved in many aspects of local politics and was highly respected for his accomplishments and leadership,” Mayor Owen Henry said.

Henry said he was “shocked and saddened” by the news of Haney’s passing at age 70.

Haney, who was a former mayor in Old Bridge, was a former Middlesex County freeholder, and recently served as executive director and chairman of the Old Bridge Municipal Utilities Authority and chair of the Old Bridge Republican Party, died on Aug. 14 while on vacation in Florida.

Council Vice President Anita Greenberg-Belli, in tears, said her friend passed away from cardiac arrest.

“The whole community lost someone truly special,” she said. “He was the kindest, loving, family man.”

Haney was instrumental in the opening of the central branch of the Old Bridge Public Library in 1993 when he was mayor.

“He was met with opposition and differences at the time,” Greenberg-Belli said. “The library is such a wonderful place.”

Haney attended the 25th anniversary celebration of the library’s central branch in May. He said the vision for the building was to make the space as open as possible, which has allowed the library to enter the 21st century without a hitch and to continue to serve the community.

Greenberg-Belli said Haney was instrumental in preserving open space in the township.

Henry said Haney was part of his transition team when he was elected mayor in 2011 and orchestrated his successful re-election campaign in 2015.

“Mayor Haney continued to assist my administration by serving on the Redevelopment Authority,” he said. “I will be forever indebted for his assistance, advice and friendship.”

Last year, Haney challenged state Sen. Sam Thompson (R-Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington) in the 12th district Republican primary. Though he did not win the nomination in the primary, Greenberg-Belli noted Haney garnered 331 votes during the Middlesex County Republican nominating convention over Thompson’s 170 votes for the seat.

Councilwoman Debbie Walker said she got to know Haney through politics.

“He was the best … he was an intelligent, kind man,” she said. “I considered him one of my best friends. He was just that kind of person, who brought a presence to the room.”

Walker said she would like to see the Old Bridge Public Library named for Haney.

Ward 4 Councilman Mark Razzoli said Haney dedicated his life to Old Bridge.

“My condolences go out to his family and friends,” he said.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Edina Brown said although she did not get the opportunity to know Haney personally, she heard about the great things he did in his leadership roles throughout the years.

“It is clear his passing is hard for those who knew and loved him, and that his presence will be missed by those who knew and loved him,” she said.

Ward 2 Council President Mary Sohor said Haney was a very special individual.

“He had a love for life and a love for Old Bridge,” she said. “Our library is a testimony to his vision of what can be accomplished when you dedicate yourself to a goal. He was a good friend who will be greatly missed.”

Ward 5 Councilman Tony Paskitti said Haney was a dear friend and mentor to him.

“Art always made himself available for discussion and advice,” he said. “He will be sorely missed.”

Henry said Haney will be missed by many people and offered on behalf of the entire township his sincere condolences.

“When I have specific dates for his funeral arrangements, I will coordinate and order all flags within Old Bridge lowered,” the mayor said.

Haney leaves behind his wife, Carol, children, Carolyn and Sean, and four granddaughters.

Services were held at the Old Bridge Funeral Home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in Old Bridge and interment at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Haney’s memory to The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at www.cinj.org/giving; or The Rutgers University Foundation – CINJ, 120 Albany St., Tower One, Suite 305, New Brunswick, 08901; or to the American Heart Association at www.donatenow.heart.org; or The American Heart Association, P.O. Box 417005, Boston, MA 02241-7005.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.