As the early morning mist lifted from the lake on the morning of July 8, 2022. Dr. Tony Pugliese quietly and peacefully followed the call of God to his eternal reward.
Tony was born on July 1, 1939, in West Pittston, Pennsylvania, as a first-generation Italian/American to parents Anthony and Matilda Pugliese. The youngest of five children, he enjoyed the loving care and protection of the big brothers and sisters, Joe, Mickey, Anna, and Nanette.
“Dr. P”, as many students called him, did not start at the top, but for many formative years, he delivered groceries to customers of his father, a multiple grocery store owner, on a humble bicycle. He then developed a large newspaper route, and young Tony quickly replaced the bike with a car of his delight. Attending Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, he earned a BS degree in biology and planned to attend dental school. While at Kings, he played on the golf team and considered becoming a professional golfer. The death of both parents and the Vietnam war shook his goals but never stole his dream. He took his first job at Metuchen High School teaching biology and chemistry, validating his teaching skills and the joy that teaching gave him.
On August 26, 1967, he married the love of his life, Mary Bustin. She shared his passion for health care as a nurse, and the two of them made a formidable team. Tony was deeply dedicated to family. He enjoyed spending time with his wife, Mary, and children, Rita O’Connor (Bob) of Sparta, NJ, Tony Pugliese, Jr.(Lisa-Marie) of Sparta, NJ, and Aileen Castro (Juan) of Montreal, QC, Canada.
He went to graduate school for his master’s in genetics and Doctor of Education, in science from Rutgers University. During this time, Dr. Pugliese published four monographs for teachers and had 26 major peer-reviewed articles published in international journals. Dr. Pugliese was a Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society member, completing his research at Roosevelt Hospital. The hospital soon recognized his work ethic and love of life and recruited him from a student role to a full-time administrator. While in that role, he completed several significant departmental enhancements – 1) senior citizen clinic for Middlesex County residents, 2) methadone maintenance program, 3) staff education programs and 4) Hospice Home.
After retiring from Roosevelt Hospital, Tony returned to the teaching profession at St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen and later taught at Pope John XXIII in Sparta. Metuchen was their home for over 30 years until they retired to Lake Mohawk in 2001.
Tony served as Rotary Club president, YMCA board of directors, and served on the board of education, all in Metuchen, NJ. He coached multiple sports, enjoying them all, including serving as coach/mentor for The First Tee program, teaching values of life through golf, and being the founder of the Middlesex County Tennis Association. Tony was humble, yet proud of, the many awards he received throughout his career, such as the Rutgers Distinguished Service Award; YMCA silver medallion for heroism; Who’s Who; president of Rutgers Graduate School of Education Association; coach of the 1999 State Golf Championship team; and three-time Coach of the Year of Middlesex County Coaches Association. Coaching the tennis, ski, and golf teams rewarded Tony far more than his individual success as an athlete.
Of all Tony’s accomplishments, the thing that gave him the most pleasure was the ability to teach and encourage young people. Seeing them learn, trust, and grow from any information he could impart gave him joy. A quick game of arm wrestling with a youngster allowing the warrior to put him down on the second try, always made him laugh and gave the youngster such confidence.
Although Tony always loved his teaching, he soon learned that his favorite students were his grandchildren, Lauren, Michael, Anthony, Lindsay, Richard, and Daniel. At any one time, you could find Tony sitting on the boardwalk watching the Lake Mohawk Ski Hawks perform, ready to help any skier with his ultimate love... waterskiing.
Friends called Wednesday, July 13th at the Goble Funeral Home, 22 Main St, Sparta, NJ 07871. A Mass of Christian Burial was held July 14th at Our Lady of the Lake RC Church, 294 South Sparta Ave, Sparta, NJ 07871. Interment followed at Good Shepherd Cemetery, Green Township, NJ.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice.