Joseph Azzolina Bridge Dedication Wednesday
Starting next Wednesday, the Highlands Bridge over the Shrewsbury River will honor the memory of the man who looked after the region's interests in the state legislature for decades.
Dedication of the Captain Joseph Azzolina Memorial Bridge will be led by state Senator Jennifer Beck - who started and led the campaign to commemorate the longtime Monmouth lawmaker.
Azzolina died in 2010 at age 84 following pancreatic surgery, one of many late-life health battles that included diabetes, colon cancer and heart trouble.
Aside from his career as a state assemblyman and senator from 1965 until 2006, Azzolina was a successful entrepreneur who established a string of supermarkets that continue today. He was also a humanitarian and philanthropist.
Azzolina's lasting legacy may be most closely tied to his service in the U.S. Navy, in which he earned a vast number of citations and medals. As a lawmaker, he spearheaded the drive to berth the battleship USS New Jersey in its home state. It's one of Camden's main tourist attractions.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1944, returned to civilian life three years later and by 1950 was recalled for service in the Korean War. In 1983, Azzolina became a special assistant to the captain of the New Jersey during hostilities in Lebanon, having a hand in decisions involving the ship's retaliatory role for the truck-bomb killing of 240 Marines and a sailor in Beirut.
Azzolina's son, Joseph Jr., joins Beck, Representative Frank Pallone, state Senator Joe Kyrillos and others for the dedication at 1:30 PM.