Condolances Cirella Family
We are saddened at the passing of Captain Joseph Cirella from Madison. We were proud to have him as our Grand Marshal for the Morris County & NYC Columbus Day Parade.
MADISON — Standing outside Saint Vincent Martyr church Wednesday morning, Jim DePugh stood solemnly as he watched a gold 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS lead a glass motorcycle-fronted hearse.
Along went his friend, Madison Police Capt. Joseph P. Cirella, who died last week after a three-month bout with cancer.
"He was one of the best guys I ever knew," said DePugh, a longtime neighbor. "I'm 87 years old and I never met anyone like him."
During blizzards, Cirella was the one to shovel DePugh's driveway. When Cirella brought home a new classic car, one of his passions, DePugh got a ride.
Hundreds gathered Wednesday to say their final goodbyes to the 47-year-old Cirella.
As the casket arrived, officers from around the state stood salute in the foggy and dreary December day.
In the funeral mass inside, the Rev. George Hundt eulogized Cirella as a devoted cop.
"He was a great police officer and our town is better because of him," said Hundt.
Madison police captain dies after cancer battle
The 47-year-old Irvington resident leaves behind a wife and three young children.
Cirella joined the Madison department in Febuary 1989 after working for the Morris County Sheriff's Office. He rose through the ranks to captain, in a promotion that just came in September. Along the way, Cirella served stints with undercover narcotics, in the detective bureau and as patrolman.
He was inspired by his father who served briefly as a policeman, said Chief Darren Dachisen.
Hundt also recalled Cirella as dedicated family man, who made time for his wife and three kids despite his career.
"Everything was a family event for Joe," said Hundt. "Even a trip to Shoprite."
Speaking to a packed church of black and blue, black worn by family and friends and blue by officers, Dachisen recalled Cirella coming to his aid as a young cop and losing one of the greatest people he has known.
"Joe is one of the most empathetic people I know," said Dachisen. "Not too long ago we were at Mount Sinai Hospital, Joe put his hand on my shoulder and looked at me and said, 'Chief, are you going to be okay having to say a few words at my funeral?'"
After the mass, Dachisen prepared to drive the restored muscle car with Cirella's two sons, Joey and Nicholas, to Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetary.
"Joe was a great cop and great friend, he will be missed," Dachisen said outside Cirella's car. "Madison lost a good one."
Nearby, DePugh, the neighbor, said it was a terrible blow to learn that the man who always walked with a spring in his step had developed cancer.
"It's hard to comprehend that he's gone," said DePugh.
Church bells rang and the officers stood at attention once more. Arms were raised in salute and someone shouted as the bagpipes stopped and the casket was loaded into the hearse.
"Captain Joseph Cirella of the Madison Police Department is going home."
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