On Friday afternoon there will be a funeral Mass for Leonard Connors at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Brant Beach and if all of those whose lives he touched attended there would simply not be enough room.

Leonard T. Connors, Jr. (courtesy Jason Smith)

The former state senator, Ocean County freeholder and Mayor of Surf City died Sunday at the age of 87 and leaves a legacy that will last at least as long as the 50 years her gave as a true public servant.

My first job in radio was in 1978 when I was a newscaster at a station that was especially interested in what was happening in southern Ocean County.  I found myself calling Connors quite often in his position as Surf City mayor and would typically interview him about some subject impacting his borough.  When I would listen back I would realize we usually talked for about 3-4 minutes about the news story and another ten minutes about fishing which he had a tremendous passion for.

He was always incredibly nice to me as a young reporter and because I lived in Seaside Heights we would often discuss issues that effected communities that relied on tourism but had to balance that with making sure its year-round residents were never overlooked.

For 50 years those that lived in Surf City had a true advocate and they always knew Len was on their side.  He knew them and they knew him and even during his 26 year stint as a state senator you always got the impression that Surf City and its 1,200 or so yearly residents came first.

I wish I could find a hand-written letter received many years ago from him congratulating me on an award I had won.  His last line was “you’ve come a long way from asking me about fishing in Surf City.”

To his family, especially son Chris who has filled his seat in the state senate, my true condolences.  He was a giant in many ways and his life should be celebrated as one filled with service, charity and love for his family and fellow man.  They simply don’t make them like that any longer.