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On Tuesday, April 11th, 2023, Richard J. North, Jr., passed away after a long battle with pulmonary disease and a short hospitalization. He was an avid storyteller to the end, amusing his home health aide with tales of working for the Port Authority in the 1970s. These included meeting the daring tight-rope walker, Phillipe Petit, as he made his way between the buildings of the World Trade Center (Richie immortalized that moment in a tablecloth sketch hung on the wall of Windows on the World), as well as inspecting the outside of the building hanging in a cage 110 stories high after the human "Spiderman" scaled the building in 1977. Some days it seemed he had a personal story for every clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Richie grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, the oldest of six children. As a kid, he spent time sledding down 'Hospital Hill' and getting into trouble with his friends. After high school, he proudly enlisted in the United States Navy in 1967. He was sent to Vietnam shortly thereafter, where he drove a forklift on a Marine base and put his artistic talents to work drafting for Admiral Zumwalt. When he returned from service, he married his high school sweetheart, Charlotte Politowski. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in March 2023.
Throughout his life, everyone appreciated Richie's artistic talents, especially his daughter, Victoria. As a child, she would tell anyone who asked that her father painted Van Gogh's famous masterpiece "Starry Night." To be fair, an oil painting of that famous night sky, signed by Richard J. North, Jr., has hung on her parents' wall for her entire life. This year, Richie's grandson Luke gifted him his own version of the famous artwork in his medium of choice: Legos.
Richie loved collecting books, movies, model cars, boats, and planes. He pursued these hobbies in earnest upon his retirement from Home Depot after many years in sales. He had an incredible eye for detail and crafted amazing model ships. He also read constantly, especially on the topic of American history. His love of reading and old movies was something he shared with Victoria; they would often discuss books and movies, quoting their favorite lines from John Wayne and Cary Grant.
Left to cherish Richie's memory are his wife Charlotte, daughter Victoria North Brenneman, daughter-in-law Laura Brenneman, and grandson Luke Brenneman, as well as his sisters, Judy Guido and Maureen Ali, and his brothers, Kevin and William North. He is predeceased by brother Donald North, mother Rosemarie Mahan, and father Richard J. North, Sr.
A visitation will be held at the Dworzanski & Son Funeral Home on Friday, April 14, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. with a Catholic religious service conducted during visiting hours. Relatives and friends are invited to meet at the funeral home on Saturday morning April 15, at 9:30 a.m. before taking leave to Holy Name Mausoleum in Jersey City where Richard will be laid to rest.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to be made to two charities that were close to Richie's heart. The Bright Focus Foundation supports macular degeneration research, and to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which offers housing for the families of Veterans and first responders.
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when my life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;
Of happy memories that I leave when my life is done.