Jack McGreevey, a hugely likeable U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran and drill instructor who spent decades as a indefatigable and effective advocate for veterans and their families in New Jersey, died on May 12. He was 93.
He was the father of former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey.
McGreevey was still working as a legislative aide to State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge), Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Perth Amboy) at the time of his death.
Born in Jersey City to Irish immigrant parents – his father, Michael McGreevey, was a Jersey City police officer – McGreevey served in the Marines from 1945 to 1948 and again from 1950 to 1951. His military service included the World War II and Korean War eras and he served as a machine gun unit leader during assignments in Japan, China and Guam. He was a drill instructor at the Camp Lejeune in San Diego.
After his military service ended, McGreevey received a degree in marketing from Seton Hall University and worked as national account sales executive in the interstate commerce industry.
McGreevey was a constant presence on the campaign trail during his son’s campaigns for the legislature, Woodbridge mayor and governor, frequently representing his son at veterans events. He joined Vitale’s Senate staff in 1998. Vitale won the 19th district State Senate seat in 1997 when McGreevey left the legislature to run for governor.
He planned annual ceremonies for the 19th district legislators to present medals for veterans who never received proper recognition for their service. He would share war stories with new generations of veterans.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, McGreevey served as the veterans liaison between Vitale, Coughlin and Lopez and the state veterans home in Menlo Park. When he found the facility lacking hot water last month, he went directly to state officials to quickly rectify the problem. He spent part of the pandemic helping home-bond veterans apply for benefits.
While his son served as governor, McGreevey was a statehouse regular.
Active in the VFW, American Legion and the China Marine Association, McGreevey was the deputy chief of staff to the New Jersey VFW. For more than 20 years, McGreevey has organized the Marine Corps Birthday event at Drumthwacket. He supported annual rallies to show support for U.S. troops in Woodbridge, and brough the Marine Corps Band to Woodbridge High School for a performance.
His wife of 62 years, Veronica, died in 2018.
In addition to his son, McGreevey is survived by his two daughters, Caroline (McGreevey) Jones, and Sharon McGreevey, and grandchildren Morag and Jacqueline McGreevey, and Christopher and Catherine Jones.
His passing leaves Wilbur Christie, the 89-year-old father of former Gov. Chris Christie, as the last surviving parent of a New Jersey Governor.
McGreevey’s wake will be held on Tuesday, May 17, from 5-8 PM, and a Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, May 18 at 10 am at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, 7 Locust St, Carteret.