Obituary of Richard Colombaroni
Lifelong Volunteer Fireman Answers His Last Call On Tuesday April 7, 2020, ex-Chief Richard J Colombaroni answered his last call. Whether you knew him as Richard, Rich or Rick, you knew him as a family man who served his community. Our dad was born in Bound Brook Hospital in 1935 to Americo and Ann (Bruno) Colombaroni. We’ve heard dad was a good kid, but we don’t think he had much of a choice because we’re pretty sure grandma didn’t let him get away with much. Whatever she did, it worked. Dad turned into a pretty great guy. He started volunteering with the Bound Brook Rescue Squad when he was senior in high school, long before service hours were required to graduate. Dad lived his whole life in Bound Brook leaving only briefly, after graduating from BBHS in 1954, to join the US Army with his buddies. After two years of service on a golf course in South Carolina, caddying for a General who took a shine to him, (talk about luck!) he received an honorable discharge. He then returned home to Bound Brook, joined Hose Company No 1, and got a job working for the borough because, by law, the town had to let him leave work to fight fires during the day. As a young volunteer fireman in the innocent 1950s, dad was visiting St. Joseph’s school during fire safety week when a very intuitive 1st grader told him he should meet his teacher - Ms. Nika. Dad was persuaded to meet the novice teacher after being assured she was both smart and pretty. To that first grader three children and four grandchildren owe our very existence. (To this day we have no idea what that student had to assure our mom). If you have lived in Bound Brook long enough you will remember Rick’s Chevron Station on the corner of Mountain Ave. and Second St, across from the post office. Dad owned and ran the station for eleven years in the 70s and 80s. He made it a family affair with his Dad and Uncle working on cars, his kids pumping gas (before those pesky child labor laws were enforced), and his wife doing the bookkeeping. Around this time dad bought his first rental property and continued his family’s tradition of becoming a landlord. It was a proud moment in our family when dad opened a restaurant in Bound Brook in the 80s; Rick’s Fire House Inn. Dad was an amazing Italian cook and loved serving his family’s recipes from the old country. After finding the restaurant business left too little time for his family and the fire department, dad returned to working for the borough where he became the Superintendent of Streets and Roads. Dad also found time to study for, and become, the Bound Brook Fire Inspector and Fire Marshall. Just thinking about all his affiliations seems tiring: Bound Brook Fire Department Fire Chief 1970, 1981, 1982 Bound Brook Hose Co. # 1 – Secretary 1956 - 2017 Bound Brook Fire Chiefs Association past President & Treasurer Bound Brook Exempt Firemen’s Association Secretary 1964 - 2017 New Jersey State Firemen’s Relief Association Sergeant-at-Arms 1978 - 2014 New Jersey Volunteer Fire Chief Association Member Somerset County Fire Chiefs Association Member Bound Brook Rescue Squad - Life Member Looking back, we are not sure where he found the time, energy and commitment. All of the above would be plenty for most people, but dad found time for more! He was a life-long member of St. Joseph’s church, and he belonged to two Italian American Social Clubs; The Marchegiani Society and The Mount Carmel Society. (Insert mob joke here). Then there were his hobbies (yes, some how he found time for hobbies). He collected Fire Department history, including antique fire trucks, which he lovingly restored and displayed in parades and musters all over the tri-state area (also a family affair whether we liked it or not. Whether we’d rather go down the shore or not). When it was time to retire dad traded in most of his collection for another one of his dreams; a get-away in the Pennsylvania where he could hunt and fish until he bagged his limit. He spent most weekends there with his bride of 50 years until she passed in 2008. All of us children and grandchildren, girl or boy, had to learn to catch our own worms, bait a hook, catch a fish and gut it. But unfortunately after taking his oldest daughter, Sharon, hunting just once he swore he would never take another girl hunting ever again, so neither of his daughters can survive the zombie apocalypse. Thanks Sharon. He loved bringing his whole family to the little piece of paradise he created with our Mom. He spent many, many (cold, cold) hours hunting with his son, Ricky who, unlike Richard’s daughters, would have been a good shot any way. My dad would proudly tell anyone who got close enough to hear; his son is a Detective Lieutenant in the Bound Brook Police Department, and (surprise) also a Bound Brook Fireman. Dad spent the last three years living at the NJ State Firemen’s Home among kindred spirits. They all swapped stories with fellow ‘old-timers’ of fires fought in their glory days. The firemen there are taken care of by an incredible group of dedicated nurses and aides that will forever have our love and our thanks. Dad did a lot with the days between 1935 - 2020: Bound Brook Firemen for 64 years of active service. Blessed to be married to Theresa (Nika) for 50 years until she passed. Loving Father to Sharon Schrull, Richard S. Colombaroni and Nikki Donahue. Initially intimidating, then big teddybear of a father-in-law to Steven Schrull, Debbie Colombaroni,and Mike Donahue (when he found out Mike wanted to marry Nikki his first words were “no give backs!”). He was the kind of grandpa who doted on and played video games with Maddie Schrull, Jake Schrull, Tommie Colombaroni and Toni Colombaroni. He was an excellent brother-in-law and respected Uncle to many nephews and a niece. He was a man who gave a lot of himself and left his community a better place for it. Due to the extraordinary times we find ourselves in, dad will be buried privately at Bound Brook cemetery on Good Friday April 10th. We will have a Celebration of Life next year, when we can all gather safely to remember dad. In the mean time please raise a glass to our father: Richard J Colombaroni while we grieve separately but together. If you’d like to pay further tribute to dad, please consider donating to Bound Brook Hose Company No 1, 510 East Main St., Bound Brook, NJ 08805 The Colombaroni family would like to thank all first responders everywhere. We are holding in our hearts the Doctors and Nurses who are working hard everyday to keep loved ones alive all over the world. Thank you especially to the Doctors and Nurses of St Clare’s, Denville, Covid-19 Unit 2.
A Memorial Tree was planted for Richard
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Hagan-Chamberlain Funeral Home