Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Legacy of Good Deeds

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Legacy of Good Deeds

Article excerpt

CLIFTON -- A crowd of about 300 people turned out Monday night at a small park in the Athenia section to dedicate a soccer field in the name of the late Councilman Matthew Grabowski, who died in February at age 53 after a battle with liver cancer.

It was a moment to pause and remember good deeds, define a legacy and -- for some -- to forge ahead with Grabowski's passions in mind. After unveiling a new sign at Richardson Scale Park on Van Houten Avenue, which notes the new Matthew Grabowski Memorial Field, his brother, Ray, talked of following in his brother's footsteps as he plans a run for Grabowski's council seat in a special election in November.

But on Monday, politics was not the main priority for the crowd, which included friends, city employees and Grabowski's immediate family, including his 92-year-old mother, Jean, two sisters, Chris and Valerie, and his longtime girlfriend, Lorna Samgour. His supporters talked of how he deserved the honor, for his commitment to beautification and dedication to Clifton.

Grabowski's cousin Maureen Buchanan recalled his "entrepreneurial spirit," and stark differences in Athenia, a heavily Polish neighborhood, before and after his efforts began.

"There was nothing going on on Van Houten Avenue," Buchanan said. "There's a huge difference. In the years he had, he did a lot here."

The field that now bears Grabowski's name is located at Richardson Scale Park, 681 Van Houten Ave., the same park that, as leader of the Athenia Business Association, he helped spruce up with new playground equipment and special ceremonies. Mayor James Anzaldi recalled the councilman using the field to show off the Clifton High School Mustang band at the annual street fair that he started.

Friends and family members on Monday defined Grabowski's legacy as an active public servant and champion of Athenia. …

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