Gabriel Chiappetta, who is “90 years old plus six months” finally retired, after providing a lifetime of service to the community.
Chiappetta was born in Italy in 1930 and moved from Calabria to the United States in 1954 with just $1.65 in his pocket, according to a proclamation read during the North Brunswick Township Council meeting on March 15.
Before working for North Brunswick, Chiappetta worked at Johnson & Johnson for 33 years as a machine operator.
He also worked as a special officer for the North Brunswick Police Department for five years.
He is an accomplished, copyrighted author, according to the proclamation.
Chiappetta was again hired by the township in 1992 as a crossing guard; he served until 2020 at the same corner of Newton Street and Cranbury Cross Road.
“It was a long journey but a beautiful one,” Chiappetta said. “They were the best years in my life, to be on my corner.”
Chiappetta said he was never late, he never left his corner unguarded, and he never missed a day – even if that meant substituting for a crossing guard on a different corner.
Council President Carlo Socio recalled when he was a child living on 16th Street.
“Mr. Chiappetta was always looking out, whether it was something going on at the library … if kids were acting up … or really, if there was any other neighborhood issue, Mr. Chiappetta, outside of just being a crossing guard, really was that person who really looked out for everyone.”
Chiappetta is also known in the neighborhood for his backyard garden. For more than 30 years he has been tending to tomato plants, broccoli, savoy cabbage, red cabbage, bok choy, arugula, Swiss chard, kale, white eggplant, purple eggplant, hot peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, escarole, scallions, basil and figs.
He learned his gardening skills from his parents, who farmed in Calabria.
Chiappetta and his wife Rosaria have been married for 52 years.