Cover photo for Joseph T. Ferrie's Obituary
Joseph T. Ferrie Profile Photo
1926 Joseph 2021

Joseph T. Ferrie

March 8, 1926 — May 31, 2021

Joseph Thomas Ferrie
March 8, 1926 to May 31, 2021

On Saturday, June 18, 1949, a skinny 23 year old outfielder who grew up playing on the sandlots and fields of Edgewater made his debut with the Burlington Cardinals of the Northern League. Joseph Thomas (“Joe”) Ferrie had been born in 1926, lived through the Great Depression, served overseas in World War Two, and was three years into his studies at Montclair State Teachers College. He was set to begin a stint as a student teacher in Dumont in September, but his college baseball coach, the legendary Clary Anderson, had asked Joe to join him in a league for rookies and young prospects where Anderson was to manage a final summer playing the game Joe loved after the summers he had missed in the war and before he embarked on his career as a teacher.

Joe was 0-for-3 when he came to bat in the top of the ninth inning on Opening Day of 1949, with the score tied. His hard line drive was headed to left field when it was caught by the St. Albans third baseman, and Joe was “robbed” of a hit, in the words of the Vermont Sunday News sportswriter. Though the Cardinals won the game 2-1 and got off to a 5-3 start to the season, Joe Ferrie struggled at the plate, was batting only .053 after their first 6 games, and was on the verge of being cut before the end of his second week in Vermont. But his stellar defensive play in the outfield earned him the nickname “The Graceful Gardener,” and his ability to do the “little things” at bat like laying down perfect sacrifice bunts and advancing runners kept him in the line-up. He survived the roster cuts as the season went on and finished with a .242 batting average and a collection of fielding gems that earned him an invitation in 1950 for one last go around with Burlingtons own “Boys of Summer” before taking up a position he had been offered as a full-time teacher in Dumont.

“The Graceful Gardener” spent the rest of his life another 71 years after that last sunny summer in center field doing “all the little things” that make our world better and cultivating a vast network of people whose lives he touched. He was a soldier, a teammate, a teacher, and a coach, and then a devoted husband and father. He served his country, his family, his town, and his church. He also became an avid actual gardener. He is one of the last of his generation and we will not see his like again. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him. He tended our garden with a gentle touch, good humor and above all grace.

Joe was born March 8, 1926 in Edgewater NJ to Margaret (nee O'Driscoll) of Ballydehob, Co. Cork, Ireland and Joseph Ferrie of Carrowreagh, Co. Donegal, Ireland. His mother arrived in the U.S. in May 1909 and was employed as a domestic servant in Englewood (NJ). His father came to the U.S. in July 1913, and a few years later joined the Edgewater (NJ) Police Department as a patrolman. They married in 1921 and had three children in addition to Joseph: James (1922), Margaret (1924), and John (1928).

Joe attended Eleanor Van Gelder School in Edgewater and Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood (Class of 1942) and worked as a driver for Lever Brothers before entering the U.S. Army in August 1944. There he served in the European Theater of Operations in the U.S. Army Fourth Division, 42nd Artillery Battalion as a radio technician and instructor. After his honorable discharge from the service in 1946, he attended Montclair (NJ) State Teachers College on the GI Bill, where he received his B.A. in 1950 while working as an elevator operator for Columbia University Teachers College. He joined the Dumont (NJ) public school system as an elementary school social studies teacher in 1950, moved to the high school history faculty in 1951, and became principal of Dumont High School in June 1960 after receiving his M.A. from Montclair. He served as high school principal in Dumont for 26 years until his retirement in 1986.

His second career began almost immediately following the end of his first, as an agent with The Equitable, providing pension products to school teachers and administrators throughout NJ. He sold his practice 5 years ago.

A gifted athlete, he lettered in baseball, basketball, track, and football in both high school and college and was inducted into the Montclair Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975. He played center field for the Burlington (VT) Cardinals baseball team in the Northern League in 1949 and 1950, was a baseball umpire throughout NJ, a football coach at Dumont High School, and a lifelong fan of the NY Yankees and the football Giants. He continued to play golf and tennis well into his 70s.

In addition to his service to his country in World War Two, Joseph Ferrie was a generous servant in all of the communities to which he belonged. He was called upon by Mayor Milton Lasher to help rewrite Edgewater's municipal code in 1957, was a member of the borough's Planning Board and Board of Education (the first teacher to serve in that capacity), served as the borough's assistant recreation director, and as a member of Edgewater's Community Chest and its chapter of the Lions Club International.

Joseph Ferrie was born and lived his first 33 years just 150 feet from Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church where he was a parishioner for 95 years. He was baptized there in 1926, married there in 1959, and will have his funeral service there later this week. He was an altar boy, a lector at Sunday morning mass for 40 years, a member of the Holy Name Society, and a church trustee.

He was predeceased by his parents Margaret and Joseph Ferrie, his brothers James and John, and his sister Margaret Jones. He is survived by his wife of 61 years Marie Francis Ferrie (nee Wersching), his son Joseph Peter Ferrie and his wife Mari Kristerlyn Gallagher, his daughter Patricia Marie Widra, his daughter Mary Ann Ferrie and her husband Daniel James Grimes, his granddaughter Emily Eve Widra and her partner Alexa Simone Kuenstler, his grandson Ethan Joseph Widra, and many nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews.

Visiting hours will be 4-7pm on Friday, June 4 at Hunt-Stellato Funeral Home in Fort Lee. A memorial mass will be celebrated at 11am on Saturday, June 5 at Holy Rosary Church in Edgewater.

Friday, June 4, 2021
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Hunt-Stellato Funeral Home
1601 Palisade Ave. Fort Lee, NJ US 07024
Fort Lee NJ 07024

Memorial Service
Saturday, June 5, 2021
11:00 AM -
Holy Rosary R.C. Church
Edgewater, NJ US
Edgewater NJ

Funeral HomeHunt-Stellato Funeral Home - Fort Lee
1601 Palisade Avenue
Fort Lee NJ - 07024
(201) 944-1202

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joseph T. Ferrie, please visit our flower store.


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