Remembering Senator S. Thomas Gagliano

photo courtesy of the Gagliano family

S. Thomas Gagliano, 87, of Red Bank, passed away peacefully Saturday April 13that home surrounded by his loving family.

Tom was born and raised in Long Branch, and graduated Long Branch High School in 1949, where later he would be inducted into the High School Scholastic Hall of Fame. He lived in Holmdel and Rumson before moving to Red Bank in 2001.

Tom served his country honorably in the U.S. Navy during the Korean Conflict.  He was a 1954 graduate of Brown University.

In the mid 1950’s, he served as an aide to the U.S. Third District for Congressman James C. Auchincloss, while a student at Georgetown University Law School where he graduated in 1959.

He returned to New Jersey and Clerked for the former NJ Attorney General Theodore Parsons. In 1960 he joined the law practice of Potter and Fisher, Long Branch. Tom became the Senior Partner of this firm which ultimately became the law firm of Gagliano, Tucci, Iadanza and Reisner. His practice primarily involved representing municipal governments, land use boards and authorities. In 1991 he became Of Counsel at Giordano, Halleran and Ciesla Law Firm and then later became and became Senior Vice President for Corporate and Legal Affairs at EPS Corporation, Tinton Falls.

He served as the Oceanport Republican Club president and was a member of the Oceanport Planning Board. He was counsel for the school board during the planning and construction of Shore Regional High School. In 1967 he was elected the Oceanport Borough Council.

Becoming active in county politics, Tom was appointed to fill an unexpired term for County Surrogate. One year later he won election to the five year term.

In 1977, Tom ran for the seat of retiring Senator Alfred Beadleston and won. He served in the NJ Senate for three terms.  He was proud of his work with Democratic Governor Brendan Byrne, as well as Republican Governor Thomas Kean.  He rose in leadership ranks to hold the top Republican post, Minority Leader of the Senate, as well as ranking member of the Transportation & Communication Committees.

Senator Gagliano was instrumental in forming what is now New Jersey Transit, to which he would later be appointed Executive Director by Governor Thomas Kean.

In 1991, following a devastating Halloween storm, Senator Gagliano pulled leaders and companies together from the Jersey Shore to form the Jersey Shore Partnership.  As the leader of the Partnership, he successfully obtained stable funding from the State, matched by the Federal Government funds for beach replenishment.

Senator Gagliano was a proud member of the Amerigo Vespucci Society of Long Branch, of which his father was a founding member and his sons and grandsons are now members. He served on the Board of East Jersey Savings and Loan and was a founding member of the Ironbound Bank. Senator Gagliano was a Founder and Board Member of Futurevision Cable TV, which ultimately became part of Comcast. He was a member of the Harpoon and Needle Club, Long Branch and the Legislative Committee of Meridian Health Care. He also served on the Patriots Alliance, trying to save Ft. Monmouth during the BRAC process.

Surviving is his wife, Maria G. Gagliano; four children, Robert and Karen Gagliano, Little Silver, John and Cindy Gagliano, Fair Haven, James and Rozie Gagliano, Essex Fells and Susan Gagliano, Florence , Italy; 11 grandchildren, Alessia, Ceara, Katie, James, Julia, Kelly, William, Sofia, Jeannie, Rozie and Emily.

Visitation Tuesday, April 16th, 4 to 8 pm, at the Woolley-Boglioli Funeral Home, 10 Morrell Street, Long Branch. Mass of Christian burial, Wednesday, April 17th, 11 am Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Long Branch. Interment will follow at Glenwood Cemetery, West Long Branch.

In lieu of flowers donations in Tom’s memory may be made to the Amerigo Vespucci Society, 286 Willow Avenue, Long Branch, NJ 07740 or the Meridian Health Care Foundation, 1340 Campus Parkway, Building C, Unit 4, Neptune, NJ 07753. To send a message of condolence or share a favorite memory please visit Senator Gagliano’s page of tributes at www.woolleyboglioli.com.

The following are tributes to Senator Gagliano that have either been sent to MMM or posted on our facebook pages.  Tributes will be updated as received:

Congressman Chris Smith said,

Senator Tom Gagliano was an extraordinary leader—smart, resourceful, tenacious, and effective. Tom was a force for what was good and honorable and won four competitive races for the state senate, the final one in a landslide.  His colleagues in Trenton had such respect for him that they made him their leader. Tom made a lasting positive difference in the lives of the people of Monmouth.  He leaves behind a great family.

My wife Marie and I deeply cherished his friendship, insights and his sense of humor—and will always be grateful that he served several times as chairman of my congressional campaign.

Sheriff Shaun Golden said,

“Senator Gagliano was a distinguished public servant who generously and honorably served the people of Monmouth County. He was a mentor and friend to many. His contributions to the quality of live in Monmouth County will last for generations.”

Fred Kniesler

Former Monmouth County Republican Chairman Fred Kneisler said,

I’m so saddened at this news, but I’m happy I got to speak with Tom just the other day. Our friendship started in 1955 or so and I could always count on him to have my back. “May the angels lead you into Paradise, may the Martyrs receive you at your coming” R I P



Former Senate President John O. Bennett said,

I was honored to serve as Tom’s running mate and colleague for a decade. He was a mentor and a friend who always had the best advice and set a standard of excellence for those of us who followed.

John Bennett

Last night Marie Muhler and I had dinner together and reminisced about the years of Gagliano, Muhler and Bennett. It was a proud moment to be selected as Tom’s successor in the senate when he became the ED for NJ Transit. He set the bar high and was an inspiration to all that followed him.

I will miss him for many reasons but most of all for his wise advise and being my friend.

Rest In Peace Senator.

Senator Declan O’Scanlon said,

Tom Gagliano was a titan in Monmouth County and in the entire State of New Jersey. I’m not sure I’ve ever known anyone so singularly focused on the best interests of our state and the shore.

Every time we look out at the beautiful beaches of New Jersey we should thank Tom Gagliano.  It was his vision that made sure our beaches remained the beautiful resource they are today.  That’s no exaggeration.

May you Rest In Peace Senator Gagliano.

Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso said,

Senator Gagliano was a giant among men! Integrity, honesty, loyalty are synonymous with the name Tom Gagliano. The world would be a much better place if we all took a page from his book. He is a great loss, a friend who will be truly missed. May he Rest In Peace and May God watch over his family in the coming days.

He was truly a great man. I was blessed to know him and have his counsel. I am a better public servant because of him.

Former Aberdeen GOP Chairman Ed Fitzgerald said,

Solid, down to earth; definitely one of the good guys. Tom had some big shoes to fill (Al Beadleston) when he joined the Senate; he stepped up in a statesmanlike fashion, serving as a grounded, levelheaded member of the Upper House and a role model for younger legislators. If I remember correctly, Tom was a first responder in his younger days; Port au Peck Fire Co., I believe. A lifetime of service. He will be missed.


Oceanport Councilman Joseph Irace said,
Oceanport remembers Senator Tom Gagliano who passed away last night. Senator Gagliano was a great friend to all of us in Oceanport and will be remembered for his insistence that Oceanport receive a full tax payment from Monmouth Park when it was sold to the State. Rest In Peace Senator.


Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna said,
A life long warrior for decency in public life in NJ – Hon. S. Thomas Gagliano of Red Bank died last night. As a Senator, County Surrogate, NJ State Cabinet Secretary, founder of the conservationist Jersey Shore Partnership, Municipal Attorney and many other endeavors, my friend Sen Gagliano exemplified the highest ideals in the execution of public service. My condolences to My dear friends Maria, his sons and daughter and their families. A shining star has left us for the Heavens.

I have ordered flags at Red Bank facilities lowered to Half Staff until Sen Gagliano’s funeral on Wednesday.

Former Assemblyman Steve Corodemus said,

Tom was an inspirational leader. As a younger aspiring elected official Tom was a role model. He was a serious lawyer, senator, friend but also had a great sense of humor.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. said, 

“Senator Tom Gagliano exemplified public service throughout his distinguished career. From his days serving in local government in Oceanport to his leadership roles in the Senate and at NJ Transit, Tom will be remembered for his dedication to improving lives in his beloved Monmouth County community and all of New Jersey.”

Posted: April 14th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

4 Comments on “Remembering Senator S. Thomas Gagliano”

  1. John O. Bennett said at 5:52 pm on April 14th, 2019:

    I was honored to serve as Tom’s running mate and colleague for a decade. He was a mentor and a friend who always had the best advice and set a standard of excellence for those of us who followed. Last night Marie Muhler and I had dinner together and reminisced about the years of Gagliano, Muhler and Bennett. It was a proud moment to be selected as Tom’s successor in the senate when he became the ED for NJ Transit. He set the bar high and was an inspiration to all that followed him.
    I will miss him for many reasons but most of all for his wise advise and being my friend.
    Rest In Peace Senator.

  2. We were said at 7:02 pm on April 14th, 2019:

    lucky to have had such a winning team as Gagliano, Muhler and Bennett: a good example for our other districts to follow. Think about going back to their classic district 12 special “burgundy and white,” distinctive campaign colors: everyone knew who it was for. We raised a lot of money, and had a lot of fun, on all those campaigns, and they represented us well, in crazy Trenton. Rest In Peace, Tom, and thanks, also, Tom,Marie and John, for your year of service to the MCRC..

  3. Many years said at 7:47 pm on April 14th, 2019:

    of service- glad our MCRC honored Tom as one of the first “ Legends.” Muhler and Bennett should be so honored, soon. We owe them all a debt of gratitude and example, for the young moving up today, and,for the future, if we are to keep Monmouth GOP!

  4. Will Morrisey said at 1:10 pm on April 15th, 2019:

    When he was first elected to the State Senate in 1977, Tom also served as attorney to the Rumson Planning Board, chaired by the smart and forceful Larry Malone. That board included Mayor Charles Callman and Borough Administrator Gary Sammon, who served as secretary; I have yet to meet any finer public officials. I attended the Board meetings regularly, and eventually Tom hired me to serve as an aide in his Senate office in West Long Branch. In his other aides, Maureen Grazioso and Al Muller, I found both colleagues and friends, and Tom proved to be the best kind of ‘boss’–fair, well-organized, attentive.
    Over the years, I came to know his law partners–several of whom went on to distinguished careers as judges–his legal staff, and of course his family, especially his wife, Maria, his three sons and his daughter. Just about everyone around him, family, friends, and colleagues alike, were honest, straight-shooting, ‘real people.’ He detested pretense and hypocrisy; the ‘fake’ types simply didn’t last long in his company. He could spot them a mile away.
    Tom was a highly intelligent man who had excellent practical judgment, whether it came to figuring out how to solve a problem or to assessing the character of the many ‘characters’ he met in government and politics. But his outstanding characteristic was loyalty. He never forgot a friend.
    He helped me a lot. It was an honor to work with him, and I am grateful to have the chance to honor his memory.