In the novel The Book Thief, my favorite character is Hans, described as “the man with the accordion heart.” When I read that sentence, I thought of my brother, Joe Hurley. His altruism is amalgamated from role models like our mother and her family. Ann Sharkey Hurley served in London during the Blitz in 1942 as a second lieutenant in the Army Nursing Corp. Her brother, Dan Sharkey, maintained the garden at St. Vincent’s Blessed Mother statue for 50 years. My mom’s twin, Hubert Sharkey, was an usher in St. Mary’s Church for 50 years. Her sister, Sr. Kathleen Sharkey, age 90, was Prioress of all of the Benedictine Sisters in the Northeast, and still cares for the terminally ill.
Joe is not only selfless, he is a born leader. He studied for years, moving through the ranks to Deputy Fire Chief. Joe was co-captain of his Marist High School basketball team. As an adult, he coached the Mary J. Donohue boys to their first city championship. He then coached his own daughters’ teams. Later, he became a referee. He became Fire Prevention Officer, teaching in every school. He also served as the Fire Training Officer for new firefighters. When my father died, Joe assumed the helm of the Albert Hurley Picnic for my father’s favorite cause—the special ability day camp. Each year for the past 40 years, these campers have enjoyed a wonderful summer day of fun with our family.
Joe was Knights of Columbus Man of the Year. This year he was inducted into the Marist High School Hall of Fame for Distinguished Service. On 9/11, Joe commandeered a volunteer firefighter group from Bayonne heading for Ground Zero. When they returned after two days, Joe started a Boot Drive at the 14A entrance. In three days, they collected $105,000 in those boots for the families of the Bayonne victims. Charity functions for his friend Bobby Parks’s children followed closely. Joe personally delivered checks to each Bayonne victim’s family and to Bobby’s wife. A few years later, Joe valiantly overcame a severe health crisis.
During Hurricane Sandy, Joe was instrumental in getting out-of-state companies to bring gasoline to Bayonne. He slept in his office for three nights until this job was completed. Then he carried meals up 12 flights of stairs to our senior citizens.
With two bridges and an airport runway recently closed, a disaster can strike Bayonne at any minute. On June 10, vote Joseph Hurley, an experienced, tough- as- nails leader, “the man with the accordion heart.” Working for Bayonne for 40 years, he never gives up. Now, he needs your vote. Second Ward friends, please do not let us down.
DONNA HURLEY ZERVOULIS