The friends of family of Essex County Democratic Chairman Phil Thigpen said goodbye to their beloved chairman today at his funeral service at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark.
The living honored the venerable Mr. Thigpen for his faith in three families: his own nuclear relatives, the Democratic Party, and his alma mater Seton Hall University.
We wish to humbly pay special tribute here to Mr. Thigpen of East Orange, who was always gracious and upheld the highest public standards of a gentleman.
He adored politics but was never cutthroat, which, ironically in New Jersey, is one of the reasons that he survived and thrived in his chosen profession.
People trusted him, and came to confide him in a very deep way and protected him as he protected them.
Mr Thigpen mentored many with his own quiet and contemplative style. The world of Essex County politics was shaken to its core this past week when he died at 87. Many of those mourners were young people touched by Mr. Thigpen’s particular human touch.
He was absolutely of another time, but undeniably hip.
It is to the credit of Gov. Chris Christie that he attended the wake last night of Chairman Thigpen, as it is a credit to the County of Essex to have had a leader of Mr. Thigpen’s standing for nearly a decade.
We will miss those moments with him. He was always in the middle of politics, which meant we worked with him often, and that was our privilege.
Chairman Thigpen was acessible to the end, and though he is gone now, we are hopeful of the enduring mark he made.
His friend, Steve Adubato, Sr., made a statement today we wish to reprint here.
“Phil and I have known each other for longer than some people have been alive. Sometimes we saw eye-to-eye and sometimes we didn’t, but throughout the years, he was a true gentlemen whose ability to bring people together benefitted the Democratic party in Essex County. As chairman, he was fair and set the standard by which all future leaders in the county will be judged. His passing is a loss for not only his family, but Essex County and New Jersey.”
Sources in Essex say the most likley successor to the chairman is Leroy Jones, chairman of the East Orange Democratic Party.
Jones had a good year. He was the prime mover and organizer of the Lester Taylor for Mayor movement in his hometown that ousted longtime incumbent Bob Bowser.