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Secaucus honors long-time civil servant and former newspaper editor

Mayor Michael Gonnelli and the Town Council presented a proclamation to Louise Rittberg

Mayor Michael Gonnelli and Louise Rittberg. Photo by Daniel Israel.

Secaucus has recognized a long-time municipal employee and former media woman for her service over the years.

At the September 27 meeting, Mayor Michael Gonnelli and the Town Council presented a proclamation to Louise Rittberg. Prior to reading the proclamation to Rittberg, Gonnelli remarked she was a “very special” person in Secaucus.

 “You’ve done so much for this town,” Gonnelli said. “I could never explain how much you did. And you did so much for me.” 

Gonnelli wanted to do something for her to thank her, thus the proclamation and a pocketbook with other gifts of gratitude inside. Gonnelli told Rittberg his heart was pounding because she makes him nervous, also noting they share the same birthday.

“We have a proclamation,” Gonnelli said. “And this is a goodie bag for you… Everything in there is true, so listen.” 

Third Ward Councilwoman Orietta Tringali read the proclamation out loud before presenting it to Rittberg. 

The town recognizes Rittberg for her “tremendous contributions to our community and for touching th elives of residents in a myriad of ways.” 

A life of dedication to Secaucus

Rittberg was born in Hoboken, then spent the first few years of her life near Boston. There, she “unknowingly learned the lessons of tolerance, diversity, and the importance of sharing the same values with which she enriched the lives of Secaucus residents,” according to the proclamation.

A graduate of Jersey City State College, Rittberg served the town in several paid and volunteer positions. The proclamation states he was a “commendable resource and guide for residents,” many of whom she did not know personally.

Rittberg made “immense contributions” at several milestone town events. She co-chaired the month-long 500th Columbus Day Anniversary celebrations in October of 1992 and the town’s Secaucus Centennial celebrations in 2000.  

In addition to that, Rittberg was a key member of the Secaucus Home News team prior to its closure in 2017 after 107 years. She contributed articles and photos to “advance the local paper to greater heights.”  

Rittberg was a feature writer and advertising manager from 1980 to 1982, a reporter and advertising manager from 1982 to 1984, and an associate editor and reporter from 1985 to 2001. According to the town, she used her “writing talent and social networking skills effectively to document events with award-winning flair.” 

On top of all that, Rittberg also served as publicity officer for the Huber Street School Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Public Information Officer at the Office of Emergency Management, and Public Relations Coordinator at the Secaucus Public Library. She has been a lifetime member of the Friends of Secaucus Public Library, making further contributions to the town as a Literacy Coordinator, Tutor, and Teacher Trainer, she helped many residents improve English language skills and through the citizenship test program. 

The proclamation concluded Rittberg was an “involved, generous citizen of Secaucus.” It thanked her for “her dedicate service and measurable contributions” to the community. 

Rittberg speechless by the town’s gesture

After Rittberg was presented with the plaque, she said a few words. She was joined by one of her daughters.

“It’s difficult for me to be speechless, those who know me know that, but I’m about speechless right now,” Rittberg said. “I have to say, this is true, I enjoyed every minute of. I got involved in this, I got involved in that. I helped this one and helped that. I made friends and so that’s all that matters. It meant a lot. 

Gonnelli noted that many people were present at the council meeting to support Rittberg, including the Friends of the Secaucus Public Library as well as her friends and neighbors, and of course her family. Following the passing of her husband Ed in 2013, Rittberg found solace in helping people as part of her job with the town. 

“When Eddie passed away, it gave me so much to do,” Rittberg said. “Do you believe this Eddie?” 

Gonnelli comforted Rittberg, who began to get emotional, alluding that her late husband was proud of her: “Eddie’s looking down, believe me.” The town honored him, a local sports legend, in 2017.

“I think so,” Rittberg said. “I can’t say anymore. This is remarkable that I should be speechless. There’s people here that don’t believe there hearing me say that.” 

Rittberg concluded by thanking the council for the honor. 

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

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