The woman behind the councilman

Bayonne mourns the loss of Cherie La Pelusa

When Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa’s wife, Cherie, died on April 28 due to the coronavirus, the Bayonne community lost one of its most prominent members.

An undeniably huge part of Gary’s life, Cherie was an active and vocal member of the community. She was a citizen activist, present at many city meetings and events throughout the years and an outspoken opponent of past city administrations.

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A frequent user of the Open Public Records Act, Cherie was well known for her undying quest for knowledge. A letter to the editor penned by Cherie in 2012 found in the Hudson Reporter Archives reflects her fighting spirit toward the administration at the time.

Current Mayor James Davis is a friend of the La Pelusa family.

“I am very saddened to learn that Cherie La Pelusa, the wife of Third Ward Council Member Gary LaPelusa, passed away after battling the Coronavirus,” Davis said. “Cherie was a very active and concerned member of our community. She took part in numerous civic activities, city council meetings, and other community events for many years. On behalf of the City of Bayonne, I would like to extend our condolences to my friend Gary La Pelusa and his family.”

Prominent in the community

Cherie was a Bayonne native, born and raised here, graduating from Bayonne High School in 1984.

Gov. Phil Murphy honored Cherie, highlighting her life’s accomplishments during his May 1 daily COVID-19 press briefing.

“Cherie La Pelusa was the beloved wife of 28 years of Bayonne 3rd Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa,” Murphy said. “She was a co-owner of her husband’s landscaping business, and she also ran his civic association. We keep her family in our thoughts and prayers.”

Cherie became a co-owner of Gary La Pelusa Landscaping in 1989 alongside her husband, who was also Manager of Hudson County Parks and Grounds. She also ran the Gary La Pelusa Association, a political organization created “to inform the public, help create a better quality of life, and help others in need while recognizing those deserving individuals for their dedication and hard work in our community.”

The organization donates to food and toy drives and hosts dinners honoring individuals who help make the Bayonne community a better place, according to the Gary La Pelusa Association.

Always remembered

According to Gary La Pelusa, Cherie had been showing steady improvement for more than 10 days before taking a turn for the worse. She was only 53 years old.

“I feel like I lost my right arm, my wife of 28 years,” La Pelusa said. “The level of hurt that me and my family feel is immeasurable. Please pray for her soul.”

Cherie is also survived by her daughters Giana and Jennifer, and sons David and Gary La Pelusa, Jr.

According to Murphy, Cherie was not only battling for her life against COVID-19, but her mom is still battling the virus.

“There she was, trying to save her mom’s life and in fact, she lost her own,” Murphy said.

In her final social media post, Cherie shared a “powerful” prayer with the community.

“Heavenly Father, please walk through my house. I give you the keys to every room. Take away all my worries, any illnesses, anything that may have entered that does not belong,” Cherie wrote. “Please watch over and assign your warrior angels to stand guard, and heal my family from any disease, pain, fatigue, or discomfort. Also comfort my friends, neighbors & relatives, wrap them in your love, and protect us from the COVID virus, in Jesus’s most powerful and precious Name. Amen.”

Cherie La Pelusa was the 52nd resident of Bayonne to die from COVID-19.

For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at

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