The world is a little darker without Monica Walsh-Petracco, who died at her home in Point Pleasant Beach on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, after a long illness at the age of 67.
Born in Neptune, she was the daughter of Ruth Sandford, a school teacher, and Edward Walsh, a long-time journalist who worked for many years at the Star-Ledger in Newark and the Asbury Park Press. Monica was a graduate of Saint Rose High School in Belmar and Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, where she studied English and Latin.
She began her career as a reporter for the Ocean County Daily Observer in Toms River, following in her father’s footsteps. Monica soon left journalism for government and lobbying positions in Trenton, attracted by politics, public policy and opportunities to promote the bipartisanship and collegiality for which she was widely known and admired.
A leading and often lone woman in a world dominated by men, Monica served from the mid 1970’s as spokeswoman for the New Jersey State Assembly’s Democratic majority and for the state Department of Education.
From the mid 1980’s through the late 1990’s, she had a distinguished career as a lobbyist, first as director of Trenton operations for the Marcus Group and later as a partner in the GluckShaw Group.
After she retired, Monica formed her own public relations and lobbying firm and continued to work independently for several additional years.
Closer to home, Monica served four terms as a Democratic councilwoman in Republican Point Pleasant Beach, an accomplishment in which she took great pride and satisfaction. Through serving her constituents, Monica became a familiar figure in town, one known for both her warmth and her firm grasp of local issues. She remained active in Democratic politics and as recently as last November assisted candidates for local office.
Monica was a volunteer for several years at Coastal Caregivers Inc., Point Pleasant Beach, and served on the board of trustees for Dottie’s House, a non-profit offering programs for women and children in Brick Township.
With her infectious laugh, generosity of spirit and buoyant personality, Monica made and kept a wide circle of friends throughout her life. She loved entertaining guests, dining well, white wine and old film classics, honing an encyclopedic knowledge of movie stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era.
She leaves a deep void in the hearts of many who loved her bright intelligence, keen wit and teasing humor.
Monica was predeceased by husbands, Timothy Rex, Louis Huesmann, and Arthur Petracco, a former mayor of Bay Head, and by a sister, Deirdre Walsh-Fedkenheuer, who shared Monica’s passion for government and worked for three governors prior to her retirement.
Surviving are two nieces, Scarlet Abrecht and Ann Sepulveda, both of Brick Township, and Ann’s husband, Desmond and infant son, also Desmond, born April 15. She is further survived by a sister, Kathleen Cooper of Michigan; her brother-in-law, Rick Fedkenheuer of Brick Township; a nephew, Brian M. Fedkenheuer, his wife, Katie and daughter, Nayah of Egg Harbor Township; a cousin, Anastasia Walsh of Silver Spring, MD; and two grandchildren, Andrew and Carolyn Petracco.
Relatives and friends are invited to a memorial visitation from 1 – 4 p.m., Monday, May 13 at the Pable Evertz Funeral Home of Point Pleasant, 901 Beaver Dam Road, where at 3 p.m. a service will be held, and a gathering will follow at Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty, 83 Channel Drive, Point Pleasant Beach.
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