In Memoriam: Josie Menna, Beloved Fair Haven Schools Lunch Aide

The Fair Haven schools community is in mourning over the loss of a treasured lunch aide — Josephine Menna.

Memorial services begin today at 3 p.m. at Thompson Memorial Home in Red Bank for the woman who began her career in the borough at 78, serving up students, teachers and the community a lot of love, a little bit of advice and some homemade gifts, a flood of social media comments conveyed.

Revered as a “beloved lunch aide and friend,” Josephine “Josie” Menna, a longtime Red Bank resident, “passed away peacefully” on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, aptly joining her husband Tommy to whom she was married for 32 years, her obituary said.

Josie Menna was aunt of Red Bank Mayor Pat Menna, who paid tribute to her on Facebook upon her death:

“Lent began this evening with the arrival in Heaven of my 90 something aunt, Josephine Figaro Menna, whom I affectionately called the honorary mayor of Garfield Place in Red Bank. She was the wonderful widow of my uncle Thomas Menna, co owner of the legendary West Bergen Market and the mother of Gregory and Gary Figaro. An extraordinary woman and person of boundless charity and good will still delivering meals to housebound ‘seniors’ at her age every week and bringing the eucharist to those who were immobile and could not attend Mass.”

Family was the center of Josie Menna’s life, according to her obituary. Though family, as many Fair Havenites saw it, extended for Josie to the kids and teachers in the lunchroom and beyond.

Josie Menna
Photo/courtesy of Thompson Memorial Home

“She taught the students to be kind and thoughtful, reminding them to help their parents around the house,” her loved ones said in her obituary.

And the effects of her time in Fair Haven schools was clearly valued.

My kids’ favorite lunch aide,” said Melanie Marti Brown. “They always had beautiful stories to tell about their sweet Mrs Menna. May she rest in peace.”

She was the kindest lunch aide ever — always gave the kids a quarter in a little stocking at Christmas time,” Gina Cusumano-Ern said. 

She did some knitting for the kids, too, another post in a long list of tributes said.

What a beautiful human being she was,” Colleen Madden Munt said. “Will be so very missed by FH!”

Before coming to Fair Haven schools as a lunch aide, Josie Menna had devoted her life to a career as a hairdresser and homemaker in Red Bank for 67 years who “was very involved in the community and  St. Anthony of Padua Church,” her obituary said.

There, she was past president of the PTA and a past treasurer of its regional diocese.

Josie was also a volunteer at Riverview Medical Center, St. Ann’s Society and more and presided over and helped with many drives and charities.

A loyal friend, “Josie’s second job was driving friends around to their appointments,” her obituary said. “She would prop herself up on pillows to see over the steering wheel and hit the streets rain or shine. She not only was their driver, but their companion.”

Josie Menna is predeceased by her husband. She is survived by: “her sons, Gary and Greg, who always made sure she was treated with dignity and respect; her seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.”

She never forgot anyone’s birthday.

Visitation will be held on Friday, Feb. 16, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St, Red Bank. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, February 17th at 11:30 a.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 121 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank.  Interment will follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Middletown.

As a communicant of St. Anthony of Padua, one of Josie Menna’s many ministries was delivering the host to parishioners at their homes. So, in lieu of flowers, a donation in Josie’s memory to St. Anthony of Padua Church would be greatly appreciated, the family said.

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management