Joseph N. Colangelo,
92, labor leader
N. Colangelo, 92, of Cinnaminson, a longtime labor leader who
represented many employees from
food and commercial companies in South Jersey for several decades
and helped start a union at Campbell Soup Co. in the 1930s, died
Tuesday at home.
and raised in Camden,
Mr. Colangelo started working at Campbell Soup after graduating from
Camden High School.
soon helped organize a union at Campbell. From then on, he continued
to go up the labor-leadership ladder.
was a fixture in the labor movement here for the last 60
years," said State Sen. Donald Norcross (D.,
Camden). "He was instrumental in many advances."
president of the Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO, had known Mr.
Colangelo since childhood. Norcross' father, George Jr., worked
closely with Mr. Colangelo in the labor movement.
Colangelo served as secretary, treasurer, and business manager of
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 80, which represented
employees at Campbell Soup and other companies, including US Cocoa
Corp., Harris Steel Co., and Flavor Delite.
Colangelo's work at
Campbell, Norcross said, helped workers win health coverage and
pension benefits so "people could retire with dignity."
who knew Joe loved him. He was somebody who was respectful and
understood what was needed to raise a family," Norcross said.
Colangelo was a Campbell Soup employee for nearly 50 years, said his
daughter, Francine Eisenmann.
negotiating wasn't his only skill. He was also a well-known singer
and was often invited to sing "Ave Maria" at weddings.
to a short autobiography, Mr. Colangelo went by the name Joe Lang as
a musician and was the lead singer of a band. The group performed at
area hotels, ballrooms, and cocktail lounges.
Colangelo also belonged to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
choir in Camden in the 1940s and '50s.
served as a business agent for American Federation of Musicians
Local 77 all through the 1960s, and as president and secretary of
the Delaware Valley
high-ranking positions that Mr. Colangelo held included secretary
and treasurer of the Camden Central Labor Union and vice president
of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council AFL-CIO.
was an instructor in the GED program at Rutgers University and a charter member
of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Cinnaminson.
four years, he served as vice chairman of United Way of Camden
County, and for many years was a board member. Its president and
chief executive officer,
Mike Moynihan, said Mr. Colangelo "has a long legacy with the
you had to do was pick up the phone and Joe would do anything he
could to help you out. He was a real community champion,"
Moynihan said, noting that Mr. Colangelo had helped develop an
immunization program for laborers' children.
Colangelo was chairman and later vice chairman of the executive board of
the Camden County chapter of the American Red Cross, and stayed on
as a volunteer for more than 25 years.
Trinidad, executive director of the chapter, recalled the powerful
labor leader as a warm and generous person with a firm hand as he
grasped a shoulder and looked a person in the eye.
was a strong advocate for everything involving health care,
including the Red Cross," Trinidad said, adding that Mr.
Colangelo had dramatically increased blood donations and financial
support to the organization by encouraging contributions from
Colangelo was the first recipient of the Good Neighbor Award given
by the Red Cross for humanitarian work.
after his Joe Lang days, he was well-known for his voice. He often
sang "God Bless America" at award dinners, Trinidad said.
had a booming voice and was a great musician," Trinidad said.
union community called Mr. Colangelo "the voice of Labor
Day," Norcross said. He had remained a visible part of the
labor community, singing the national anthem at an annual Labor Day
celebration in South Jersey.
addition to his daughter, Mr. Colangelo is survived by sons
Salvatore, Peter, and Nicholas; eight grandchildren; and three
wife of 70 years, Antoinette "Nettie" Colangelo, died Feb.
12. "We all think he died of a broken heart," his daughter
may call from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow and from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m.
Saturday at the Falco/Caruso & Leonard Pennsauken Funeral Home,
6600 N. Browning Rd., Pennsauken. A Funeral Mass will be said at 10
a.m. Saturday at the Church of St. Charles Borromeo, 2500 Branch
Pike, Cinnaminson. Burial will be in Lakeview Memorial Park,
staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
staff writers Barbara Boyer and Jonathan Tamari contributed to this