In January of 2023, City of Clifton residents gathered at Clifton High School for the formal swearing in of the new Mayor, Raymond Grabowski. Grabowski became the first Mayor since the retirement of James Anzaldi, who was among the top 20 longest-tenured mayors in the United States at the time of his retirement, after being elected as his beloved hometown’s Mayor in 1990.
Also in the audience was the only other living past Mayor of Clifton, Gerry Zecker. It was a milestone in the history of the City of Clifton and so many Cliftonites gathered to show respect to their treasured Mayor Anzaldi (aka “Uncle Jimmy” as he is fondly called for his amazing relationships with so many). Citizens were also in attendance to show their support to the new Mayor as we turned a page in Clifton History. It was a time of unity and the future of the 100-plus years of the existence of the City of Clifton.
Taking in this historic occasion was Fairleigh Dickinson University Board of Governor’s member and soon to become President of the Alumni Association, Rosemary Trinkle Baran. The Trinkle family had been long-time supporters of both Mayor Zecker and Mayor Anzaldi (who were both students of Rosemary’s late grandmother Florence). The audience did not know what Rosemary knew which was all three of these Mayors who have served their beloved City of Clifton were also FDU Rutherford graduates! Zecker, BA ‘63, Anzaldi, BS ‘74, and Grabowski, BS ‘75. Rosemary also has close ties to Mayor Grabowski, having graduated with his late brother and former councilman Matthew Grabowski.
One might ask the question if this is some kind of a coincidence, and we think not! While the commute from Clifton to Rutherford was quick with many routes if the highway was busy, and Clifton has many FDU Rutherford graduates, there may be more to this significant historical footnote. Perhaps it goes back to the legacy of FDU, and the goal to provide education to first generation students, but it also goes back to other parts of the FDU mission of preparing world citizens. With so many years of dedication to helping others all three of these Clifton Mayors are working each day to help others.
Mayor Anzaldi currently serves as a Congressional aid to Congressman Bill Pascrell, and Mayor Zecker recently finished serving as Assembly aid to retiring Assemblyman Tom Giblin. Each day, these two past Mayors are still called by so many citizens asking for their advice…there seems to be no retirement for our FDU graduates and retired Mayors! What they learned at FDU has transformed their lives to years of service. Mayor Zecker and Mayor Grabowski also recently attended the FDU Rutherford reunion and we look forward to all three Mayors ongoing involvement as we forge ahead in revitalizing our Rutherford Alumni Chapter.
Suffice to say, the City of Clifton has much to be thankful to Fairleigh Dickinson University!