This year, two grand marshals will lead the Weehawken Memorial Day parade, riding in a car up front. The parade will start at 9 a.m. on Highpoint and Gregory avenues.
Co-Grand Marshal Rev. Lester Guilfoyle Jr., 84, is a Korean War veteran. The other Co-Grand Marshal is Pvt. F.C. Ralph Angione, 94, a WWII veteran from the Battle of the Bulge.
Rev. Guilfoyle has lived in Rockaway for 17 years, but has commuted back and forth to Jersey City after his retirement. He was the Pastor at Weehawken’s Park United Methodist Church from 1988 until 2015.
“Weehawken is a beautiful place with a wonderful mayor. I was at his first inauguration,” Guilfoyle said. He’s walked in the Weehawken Memorial Day parade for 26 years, and only missed one due to a sickness. “For the last 10 years I haven’t walked in it, because of my heart, but this is the first ride,” he said.
“We look forward to the parade with bells on.” — Rev. Lester Guilfoyle Jr.
“It’s quite an honor to be in the parade. I was surprised when the mayor announced it. He made sure my wife was notified also. He’s a gentleman and a good man, and the council are a good bunch of people,” Guilfoyle said. “As pastor of the Weehawken community, when they ask you to do something, you do it. I’ve also been in this town’s Veteran’s Day celebration.”
Mayor Richard Turner said, “Rev. Guilfoyle has been a good friend, gifted spiritual leader, mentor, and guide to the Weehawken community and the parish at the Park United Methodist Church for over 25 years. As he begins his retirement, we can think of no better sendoff than bestowing the honor of co-grand marshal on him for this year’s Memorial Day Parade.”
As a longtime member of the church, Guilfoyle said he was blessed to be appointed.
“We [the church] look forward to the parade with bells on.”
Pvt. F.C. Angione has lived in Weehawken for over 55 years. He was inducted in the Army in 1942, and inducted in the Tank Corps in 1943.
On New Year’s Day in 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, his tank blew up. “I survived. I had seven operations, and they put me back together. My commander died inside,” Pvt. Angione said. “They gave me disability discharge after.”
While away, he and his wife Antoinette wrote back and forth to each other. He said, “She was my girlfriend at the time. I never told any girl I loved them, only her. We got married in 1946. We were married for 63 years, but she went to heaven. So I made my choice to follow Jesus and become an Evangelist.”
He’s been an Evangelist at the Hoboken Gospel Church.
Mayor Richard Turner said, “Ralph has lived in Weehawken for over 50 years and is a well-known figure in the community. At 94 years old, Ralph distinguishes himself by his selfless ministry to those who are ill and afflicted at home, local hospitals, and nursing homes. He is a purple-heart recipient and a proud veteran and we are pleased to have him lead the parade.”
“I feel honored, so honored that I can’t even conceive the fact they contacted me. I guess they read my book, they took certain parts out and made a story,” said Angione, referring to the memoir he recently wrote. He added, “I feel so honored. They [town officials] do a lot of nice things for Weehawken. It’s important, because World War II veterans are dying, they’re fading away. It’s getting to a point that not too many will be left. I’m honored to be selected to ride in a car, and if I shake hands with anyone they’ll get message of God.”