A song for life Hudson County names its senior citizen of the year
by Al Sullivan
Jun 13, 2006 | 196 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although in truth any of the 12 candidates for Hudson County Senior Citizen of the Year qualified for the title, the selection committee seemed it had a tougher choice than usual as Jean Perrucci of Bayonne and Rhudy Snelling of Jersey City ran neck and neck in the scoring.

In the end, however, Snelling was named the 2006 Senior Citizen of the Year and honored at a May 17 luncheon at Casino-in-the-Park in West Side Park in Jersey City.

Candidates for the honor from each town are named annually by the municipality's mayor, and then scored by a committee at the county level for the ultimate honor.

Catherine Macci, of the Hudson County Office on Aging, said the basic criteria is how much a senior is involved in community activities, especially those activities that have seniors helping seniors.

Joanne Martin, chairperson of the Senior Advisory Committee charged with making the selection, said choosing one senior out of the 12 is never an easy task, because all of them have done so much in their communities.

"Every municipal mayor makes a recommendation and sends us a resume," Martin said. "Sometimes it is a very tough choice. We select the person who is out there doing a lot for other people, especially other seniors. This can't be paid. It must a volunteer work."

A song in his heart

Snelling is best known for his voice, which has greeted political and other celebrities including governors, but most often sings praises to God through his frequent church activities.

"Anyone that can sing better than I can I had to nominate for senior of the year," said Mayor Jerramiah Healy when interviewed.

Snelling has been a featured volunteer vocalist for many years, singing at city, county, state and congressional functions as well as local community and NAACP events.

"Any time we have asked him to come sing for our congregation he has never refused," said Rev. Mark Lewis of the Church of Our Saviour in Secaucus.

Singing, of course, is only part of the reason for his being selected, although Snelling, when interviewed, refused to sing his own praises.

He is frequently found at Maureen Collier Senior Center in Jersey City where he volunteers with the lunch program, making sure the seniors get home safely, visiting them when they are sick, and taking them shopping and to the doctors. Snelling has received the Paul Robeson Award for Community Service and has been recognized for several decades by churches and civic organizations.

Although known in the community for his voice and his volunteerism, Snelling was also well known for several businesses he owned and operated in Jersey City including Bay Street Garage, Rhudy's Ocean Avenue Exxon Gas Station and Rhudy Snelling Towing Service.

Bayonne's senior was a very close second

The tally sheet for each senior has a number beside each name, and on several, Snelling and Perrucci scored nearly perfect scores of 10 on each.

Perrucci is well known in Bayonne for her involvement in activities She a member of St. Anne's Association, and at 76 years old she is even scheduled to take part in the American Cancer's Society Relay for Life overnight fundraiser in June.

Her husband, Frank, said he'd given up on getting calls at home because most times when the phone rings, the call is for her, someone asking her to help, and she never refuses.

Her activities include involvement in the Catholic War Veterans Post 1612, usher at her church, and a host of other activities throughout Bayonne - including her deep commitment to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks through the September 11... Bayonne Remembers Committee.

Other nominees include Anne Northrup of East Newark, Ann T. Dudsak of Guttenberg, Marion B. Listwan of Harrison, Charles Schulz of Hoboken, Joyce Schaible of North Bergen, Frances Verpent of Secaucus, Thomas Barrett of Union City, Evelyn Baecker of Weehawken and Lucila Hernandez of West New York.
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