Nicholas A. Corbiscello

nicholas corbiscello

December 24, 1919 ~ July 6, 2020

July 7, 2020

All flags are waving at half-mast today at the Fort Lee Borough Hall and throughout the town in memory of my dear father former Mayor Nicholas Corbiscello.

When the skies opened up yesterday afternoon (July 6th), God took another angel… this time it was mine.

Nick, as he was affectionately called, was born during the Spanish Flu pandemic and left this world yesterday in the mist of COVID 19. To be born and die in a pandemic is quite a remarkable coincidence…. But then Nick was truly a remarkable man….

Some say that I was one of the lucky ones because I had him for so long…. Others say the longer you have them… the longer you want them. Even at 100 and ½ years “young” … for me his passing was much too soon.
I will forever hear his voice, see his smile and feel his hand in mine.
His unending wisdom will continue to carry me through even my darkest days.
To say that my father was my pride and joy does no justice to what he brought to my life.
How do you describe the man who made the world spin for you, who was larger than life with a heart that beats for all.

On Christmas Eve in the year 1919, in Fairview, New Jersey, Nicholas Anthony Corbiscello was born to Italian immigrant parents who came to America seeking opportunity. Nick, the eldest son of 6 children learned early in his life that education, hard work and perseverance would be his priority. He attended public elementary schools in Bergen county, and received his intermediate schooling in Binghamton, New York, where his father decided to move the family after winning a road building contract during the Great Depression.

As Americans filled long breadlines and people begged for food, young Nick carried the water bucket to quench the thirst of the laboring men while building the early roads of Binghamton, New York with his father. In later years, Nick would recall the difficulties during those days of being an Italian American. The anti-Italian sentiment painted Italians as subhuman and undesirable and employers often refused to hire people of Italian extraction. Nick knew that he would always walk tall and stand proud of his Italian heritage and, in doing so, he committed himself to be the best he could be and to make his mark in life by bringing only pride to the Italian people. And so he did for all his life.

Nick continued his high school education as a graduate of Jersey City Prep and then on to attend Rutgers University and St. Tomas University while stationed in Manila, Philippines.

Nicholas Anthoy Corbiscello was a member of the Greatest Generation. A generation of Americans that we may never see again. A generation marked with discipline, sacrifice and triumph that defined America and is now passing into history.
He survived the Great Depression and was proud to serve his beloved country during World War II in Asia Pacific, landing with the first assault troops on Morotai in the Dutch East Indies, Luzon and the port of Manila in the Philippines, and finally landing ashore with the first troops in Wakayama, Japan under the command, and literally alongside, General Douglas MacArthur.

He was a Bergen County boy through and through.

In 1946, immediately upon his arrival home from the war, he took a small loan out to buy an army surplus bulldozer and started his heavy construction company, Corbiscello Bros, Inc., building many of the Bergen county roads and homes, and heavily excavating many of the hi-rise building footprints that we commonly drive on and live in today.
He began his political career as a Fort Lee Councilman in 1976 and in 1979 Nick was elected Mayor of Fort Lee where he held the office for 12 years or 3 consecutive terms (1980-1992) During his mayorship Nick was elected and served as a Bergen County Freeholder from 1986-1989. He was “the people’s mayor” and to this day those that knew him still addressed him as “Mayor”. In addition, Nick served on the Fort Lee Planning Board for 14 years and in 1991 he was appointed the commissioner of the Bergen County Utilities Authority (1991-1996). He continued to contribute his expertise to the county by being liaison to the Hackensack Meadowland Commission and serving on the Bergen County Transportation Committee.

Over the years, Nick continued to demonstrate his outstanding leadership skills by becoming the President of the Cliffside Chapter of UNICO, the President of the United Republican Club of Fort Lee and the Vice President of the East Bergen Council for Mayors.

At 92 years young, Nick was elected to the Executive Board of Directors at the Atrium Palace Condominium in Fort Lee, his residence for the last 10 years, where he served actively on the board until he was 98 years old with his mind as “sharp as a tack”. Still an incredible businessman and strategist, calculating figures in his head and negotiating big business for the Atrium as well as his own private commercial real estate holdings.

Lucky for my late brother Tony and I, my father met my mother Anna on the dance floor at Palisades Amusement Park in 1947. They married in 1950, moved to Fort Lee and had two children, Tony and Maria, and just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last week. A never-ending love story that most could only dream of.

He was a beautiful man both inside and out and his heart shined a light on everyone he touched. Always an inspiration, always a true gentleman and always proud of his Italian heritage. His life was full and rich in virtue, always finding the good in everything and everyone and believed emphatically that you must make every moment count. “Never stop learning and never stop being productive” he would say to my brother and I.

He was the finest man I have ever met. True and true… authentic to the core.

As his ripe “young age” of 100 ½ he died of natural causes.

I’m so thankful that God chose you Dad to bring me into this world and for all that you have taught me about being the person that I am.

I’m so blessed to have been standing on the shoulders of a giant…..

Rest in Peace Dad… you’ve done good in this world!

Nick’s farewell arrangements are as follows:
Open visitation will be held at the Patti & Mikatarian Funeral Home at 327 Main Street, Fort Lee (next to the Borough Hall) on Monday, July 13th from 4 to 8 pm. Walk-in, walk-out are welcome. All are asked to assemble Tuesday July 14th at 10:45 am in The Main Madonna RC Church off Whitman Street in Fort Lee NJ. Specific arrangements are being made to be COVID mindful with appropriate distancing in a sanitary environment


Mass: July 14, 2020 10:45 am

Madonna R.C. Church
Across the Street From Funeral Home
Fort Lee, NJ 07024

Visitation at Funeral Home: July 13, 2020 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Frank A. Patti & Kenneth Mikatarian Funeral Home
327 Main Street
Fort Lee, NJ 07024

Final Resting Place: July 14, 2020 11:50 am - 12:00 pm

Madonna Mausoleum
2070 Hoefleys Lane
Fort Lee, NJ 07024

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  1. Ann, Maria, members of the Corbiscello family and friends:
    I am so sorry to hear of Nick’s passing. I am sorry, as well, that I am not there to share your grief and honor his life. A life so well lived, apart from his public persona, by the love he received from so many and those he loved in return for all of his 100 years. Only this pandemic and the travel restrictions from Florida have kept me and my family from being with you today.
    While I’m sure there will be a lot of discourse about Nick’s public accomplishments, I wanted to write a little about the private man I knew , a Father figure who was always so happy to hear from me , to argue with me good-naturedly and was as proud of my accomplishments and family as he was of his own.
    I first met Nick, Ann and Maria over 50 years ago when I became close friends with their late son and brother, Tony, who became my brother too, as you became my second family. There is scarcely a day or week or month that goes by that I don’t think of something hilarious Tony said or did or some experience we had and the wonderful memories of the time spent in his company and with you as well. I never forget him.
    Nick had nicknames for Tony and Maria and, of course, I was no exception…………. I was James Aloysius ……or Jimmy Boy………both of which seemed to stick over the years. (I think the James Aloysius came from a Jimmy Cagney movie but I can’t be sure….Nick had a thing for Cagney).
    Each time we met, after a quick update on health, family, jobs etc….we were off into a discussion of world events. Debate was more like it. He would begin by asking me what I thought of some news item of the day. After offering my opinion he would, of course, disagree with me and we were off. Nick loved a good discussion and over the years we discussed virtually every aspect of US and world politics, occasionally solving the world’s problems but mostly agreeing happily to disagree. We shared an interest in politics that began years earlier. Almost forty years ago, one of us convinced me to run for City Council when Nick was Mayor. I lost, of course. But the really funny thing about my brief political career was I ran as a Republican despite being a lifelong Democrat. I can assure you that didn’t go over too well with the local Republican cognoscenti in Fort Lee at the time. But it didn’t bother Nick. If anything it brought us closer and he and I continued to laugh about it for years. But despite our different views of the world, he sincerely listened to my opinions and provided great advice and counsel. I always felt better after our long ranging conversations.
    No matter where we were and no matter what the occasion, we were always eating. I am married to an Italian woman, so no reunion was ever had in anyone’s house without food…..and lots of it. And everything was critiqued to the smallest detail…..Oh, you like the mozzarella? Anne, where did you get that? ….. What do you think of the sauce?….. Occasionally I would offer an opinion which Nick would find hilarious. What does an Irish kid know about meat sauce!
    My God, I loved him………
    Twenty years ago we moved to Florida and I didn’t get to see him much although we kept in touch mostly through Maria. Nick and Ann attended my 60th surprise birthday party in NYC and they stayed with us for Thanksgiving in Florida with Maria which is one of our favorite memories.
    Nick’s legacy for me will forever be a warm, loving man with a great family who revered him. I know I did.
    He was a very lucky man and an example of how life should be lived.
    I will remember his love and kindness all my life.


    James “Aloysius” (Jim Doyle)

  2. So sorry to see a good man go. Thank you for helping me for long years and had to put with me at the end. So sorry I couldn't say good bye to you. Truly a good man.

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