in memoriam

In Memory of Joseph A. Buckley

February 9, 2024


Joseph Alden Buckley III, son of Teresa D'esposito and Joseph Aden Buckley II, passed away on February 4, 2024, at the age of 77.

Born and raised in The Jersey City Heights. Joseph spent his youth as a greaser and as a biker, speeding around on Harley-Davidson Fatboys and Ducatis earning the nickname, "The Terror of the Heights." (And then there was that story about the police horse.) One day, while riding his bike, he came upon a woman whose car had broken down. That was how he met the love of his life, Valerie R. Buckley. Together they settled down and raised two daughters, Heather and Regina.

During the Vietnam War, he was drafted. He tried out to be a Navy SEAL, but was rejected due to his stutter. He served on ships patrolling the United States as a member of the Navy. He'd always loved trains-when he came home after being discharged, Joseph's father told him to go work on the railroad with him-so Joseph did.

He worked at PATH for 45 years, rising to the position of Structural Foreman. His co-workers were so impressed by his large stature that they xeroxed his boot and hung the image on the wall. One day, his boss asked him to pick up a heavy subway axle. Joseph did-with his hands. His boss saw this and said, "You know we have machines for that." This was how Joseph became known as "the strongest man in PATH."

When women became more of a common presence among the construction staff at PATH, Joseph was always supportive of them, protectively walking them to their cars at night. He once received coverage in The Jersey Journal for running down and catching a purse-snatcher.

Joseph Buckley worked at PATH during both the 1993 and the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks. When the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred, his family feared the worst for three days of not hearing from him. He spent that time in the tunnels working with his crew to seal the cracked subway slag wall to keep the Hudson River at bay. Recommended for an award for his service, he rejected it out of respect for all of the unrecognized members of his team.

Joseph is remembered for his hilarious sense of humor and his playful nature, which led to many hours of both watching horror movies and playing doll babies with his daughters. He loved his daughters, and was always supportive of their distinctive personal styles and interest in creative fields. He told them, "I don't want you to break your ass;" and sent Heather to art school and Regina to culinary school.

When she was a little girl, Joseph always bought Heather her Fangoria horror magazines at Jack's Stationery in Keyport, NJ. (She later went on to write for Fangoria and more recently, to produce films covered by the magazine.) He once told her: "I was going to get Frankenstein monster tattooed on my back in the Navy, but I thought my Dad would kill me." In the first movie Heather produced, director Jenn Wexler's The Ranger (2018), there are props from Joseph's personal collection; the knife, the deer head, and if you look closely, you can see Joseph himself in a photo as a missing person. He later expanded into the moving image by appearing tied up in a short horror film. He will continue to be thanked on Heather's films for as long as she makes them.

Joseph shared in his daughter Regina's love for animals, especially Brittany Spaniels, and appreciated her great talents as a chef and filling the house with Hello Kittys.

Infamous in his youth, Joseph remained a keen observer of Jersey's infamous characters. Upon watching the HBO documentary The Iceman Tapes, Joseph recognized notorious hitman/serial killer Richard Kuklinski as a regular at the bar at which he'd formerly worked as a bartender. The legendary Hudson County stories told by Joseph and Valerie about living around the mafia have been recounted in Nick Braccia's 2020 book about the television series The Sopranos, Off The Back of a Truck.

While Joseph cut an imposing figure, he always had a lot of friends. He was a proud member of The Knights of Columbus, a member of the Old Bridge Rifle & Pistol Club, and Pheasant Hollow Gun Club, where he was known for being an incredible marksman.

Joseph was predeceased by his beloved wife Valerie in 2020. Besides his daughters, Mr. Buckley is survived by an aunt, Marie D'esposito, 87.

This world no longer offers men like Joseph Buckley. He touched many lives and spawned many tales. Think of him when you listen to a Johnny Cash song, maybe "Folsom Prison Blues," maybe "The Long Black Veil": Long live the legend of Joseph Buckley.

Arrangements are under the direction and care of, Aftercare Cremation Service, 241 Bordentown Avenue, South Amboy, NJ 08879.

Published by The Jersey Journal on Feb. 9, 2024.