By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – NJ Gov. Phil Murphy and members of the Ventnor Board of Commissioners honored school board member and former Atlantic County Commissioner Joe McDevitt, who died Jan. 21 at age 53 from complications of COVID-19. Flags in Ventnor remain at half-staff until his burial on Monday.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 8 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Atlantic City, but it is limited to family members and close friends due to COVID-19 restrictions. He will be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery Mausoleum on Route 40 in Mays Landing, where guests and members of his “Ventnor Posse” will be invited to share their memories of McDevitt. The family encourages everyone to wear Holy Spirit High School or Notre Dame attire in his memory.
His wife Ailyn McDevitt told commissioners Jan. 28 that the services would be broadcast live on McDevitt’s Facebook page.
The family will hold a remembrance service on the beach at the Ventnor Pier this summer.
She thanked members of the community for their outpouring of support during a difficult time.
Mayor Beth Holtzman said McDevitt had a rough exterior, but he had a good soul, and left the Earth too soon.
“We all have mountains to climb in our life, and at one point in my life I was on a rough mountain. I’ll never forget the conversation Joe and I had at the backyard fence. His empathy and compassion was something I will never forget,” she said emotionally at the start of the meeting.
Commissioner Lance Landgraf said he had a “larger than life” image of “Mico,” the nickname McDevitt was known as.
Landgraf said the Imagine Ventnor team had considered him to run for commission in 2015.
“From that date on, he’s been a sounding board for me,” Landgraf said. “And when we reached out to him to fill a seat on the Board of Education, there was no hesitation at all. He wanted to do what he could for his community.”
Holtzman appointed McDevitt to the board in July 2020, but due to the coronavirus, he didn’t start serving until August, and was appointed in November to serve as the city’s representative on the Atlantic City Board of Education. Board member Michael Advena will take his place.
“He left a big hole to fill,” Landgraf said.
Commissioner Tim Kriebel said he is aware of McDevitt’s work in the community, sports and in “all things Ventnor,” and offered condolences to the McDevitt family.
“I know how much you guys loved Joe,” Ailyn McDevitt said during the public comment period. “I can’t cry anymore, I’ve run out of tears.”
McDevitt was a lifelong resident of Ventnor, a graduate of Holy Spirit High School and Stockton University, and taught at Atlantic City High School for 26 years. He was a member of the Ventnor City Beach Patrol for several years.
According to his obituary, “he was a shining star and fixture of the greater Atlantic City community his entire life.”
McDevitt served at-large on the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders for two terms, coached the Atlantic City Vikings, Holy Spirit High School and Ventnor Pirate football teams. He was a member of AOH, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, AC Moose Lodge and the Ventnor Republican Club. He owned and operated Leprechaun Lawn service for nearly 30 years.
Murphy said like his brother Bob McDevitt, who is president of UNITE HERE Local 54, which represents thousands of casino employees, Joe McDevitt was “a proud union man,” and a member of the New Jersey Education Association.
At his COVID-19 press conference on Friday, Murphy said he spoke with Bob immediately after Joe’s passing, and also to Ailyn and their children.
He said McDevitt was a “tremendous civic champion.”
“The way we should all be remembered. Thank you, Joe, for a career spent in public service. Thank you for a job well done. God bless and watch over your memory and your family,” Murphy said.
He is survived by his loving wife Ailyn, daughter Joselyn, 17, and son Robert, 16.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Joe McDevitt Education Fund, 809 N. Cornwall Ave., Ventnor, NJ 08406. Arrangements are by the Gormley Funeral Home.
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