A former Rahway city business administrator, was honored for a career in public service of almost four decades at a Jan. 22 gala cocktail party and dinner held at Mayfair Farms in West Orange.
The Montclair Times reported that nearly 500 people attended a retirement gala last month for outgoing Montclair Township Manager Joseph M. Hartnett.
His origins in Rahway led Hartnett to a long list of public positions plus activities in a host of civic and charitable endeavors.
In addition that having been elected a member and president of the Rahway Board of Education, Hartnett served 19 years in the Rahway municipal government as City Administrator (1975-1990), Superintendent of Public Works (1974-1975), and Executive Assistant to the Mayor (1971-1974).
Hartnett helped create the Rahway geriatric center and supervised construction of the City Hall.
“I’m losing a good colleague, a good coach, and a good mentor,” said Montclair Deputy Mayor Roger Terry, who gave one of seven testimonial speeches praising and teasing Hartnett, who retired at the end of January after six years leading Montclair.
The evening included an eight-minute slideshow highlighting Hartnett’s achievements in Rahway, as a vice president at St. Peter’s College, as well as in Montclair.
Master of Ceremonies Timothy P. Reilly joked that Hartnett was spending his final days as Montclair’s manager “giving out pardons and no-show jobs.”
“There was no middle ground when it came to Joe Hartnett,” continued Reilly. “He was either hated or detested.”
On a more serious note, former Mayor Ed Remsen said Hartnett left Montclair better than he found it. “He was not going for style points,” Remsen said. “He was going for results.”
Hartnett credited his staff for his success and said, “Thank you for allowing me to stand on your shoulders.”
Joe’s wife Georgia, an attorney, retired as an executive at Union County College and their son Colin, is a graduate of Brown University.