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James Mastej

8/11/2017


James Mastej, age 69, of Wayne, slipped away peacefully and unexpectedly, on Friday, August 11, 2017.

Jim was born in Hackensack and raised in Teaneck where he attended Teaneck High School. He went on to enlist and proudly serve in the United States Marine Corps where he was a helicopter mechanic and crew chief, and recipient of the Marksmanship Rifle Badge.

Upon his return to civilian life, Jim accepted a position as a grounds crewman with Atlantic Aviation Corporation at Teterboro Airport. One of his responsibilities involved fueling the various aircraft under his care. One day, while driving the fuel truck, his eyes fell upon a young woman walking between the company’s two hangars. Never shy, Jimmy promptly pulled over, jumped out of the truck, walked up to that woman and introduced himself. She introduced herself as Patricia Hauser, then they shared some small talk before going on with their daily duties. A few days later, while Patricia was having lunch, Jimmy ran into her again, but this time he asked her if she would like to go out with him. That first date, which took place on March 15, 1968, began with dinner in a restaurant on the top floor of the Marriott Hotel in Saddle Brook. It was a double date and, after dinner, things were going swimmingly well so Jim, Pat and the other couple decided to head over to the Country Squire (today known as the Cosmopolitan) on Route 23 in Wayne for a nightcap. But the night didn’t end there; on to The Suburban Diner (because that’s the beauty of dating in New Jersey where they’re open 24/7)! It wasn’t until 3:00 in the morning when Jimmy finally dropped Patty off at her parents’ home. Patty’s dad wasn’t even mad - which helped her know how much he liked Jimmy from the start. As the saying goes, that first date was “in the books” but chapter one was just the beginning of a loving and storied relationship. Seven-and-a-half months later, on November 1, 1968, those lovebirds headed to see Patty’s Uncle Fred, who owned a jewelry store in Jackson Heights Long Island. They picked out a ring and that day served as their official engagement. Wedding bells rang on Sunday, June 1, 1969 at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Saddle Brook. After a reception at Natoli’s, Jimmy and Patty left for their honeymoon in New England.

After the honeymoon, the newlyweds settled into their first home together – an apartment on Lupton Lane at Acquackanock Village in Haledon. Two years later they purchased a little two-bedroom house on what was known by the locals as Ely’s Island in the Mountainview section of Wayne. “The little red house on the island,” as Patty and Jimmy always referred to it later, became even more of a home when they welcomed their first child. No, not Stacie (she would come a little later). Max. When many of us think of Jimmy, we think of his deep and abiding love of dogs, which all began with their first golden retriever, Max. A wonderful guard dog and friend, taking care of Max helped Patty and Jimmy know they were ready for parenthood! And so, “the little red house on the island” welcomed its newest resident in June of 1974 with the birth of Jimmy’s first daughter, Stacie Aileen. Another baby was on the way soon thereafter, and “the little red house on the island,” where Jimmy had lived for five years, soon became a rental property as the Mastej family bought their house on Alps Road in August of 1975. They’ve called that home ever since. It was in that new house that Jamie Anne was welcomed in January of 1976, and the Mastej family was complete. For a long time, anyway. Eventually, Jamie would marry Andy and Stacie would marry John. And Jimmy loved this growing family even more. But it was in 2007, when Jimmy became a grandfather that he really took on the role he was born for: Grandpa! First came Erin Mary, and then, less than two years later, came Megan Shannon. The girls describe their grandpa as “the best in the world.” According to Erin and Megan, “Grandpa was kind, and loving, and always thinking of other people before himself.”

Though Jimmy met Patty at Atlantic Aviation, they didn’t work together long. In 1968, Jimmy left his job there to become a truck driver. He was driving for Boss Linco Trucking Company, but deep in his soul, he yearned to be a police officer. His interest in law enforcement was kindled by a great cop, nicknamed Blackie, a man who had the lamentable duty of coming to Jimmy’s house to break the news to him and his siblings that their father had been killed and mother severely injured in a car accident by a drunk driver. Six-year-old Jimmy was deeply moved by Blackie’s kindness that day, and from that time on he knew he wanted to be a cop himself. With Patty’s encouragement, he took the test and, on September 7, 1972, became a police officer with the Township of Wayne. It wasn’t an easy transition since this decision meant a pay cut from the $15,000 he was getting paid to drive a truck to just $8,200 as a first-year cop. Despite the pay cut, Jimmy never looked back. He truly loved being a policeman and serving his community.
While working fulltime as a patrolman, he also started taking night classes at William Paterson College. It wasn’t easy balancing a full-time job, tons of side jobs, two little kids, and college, but in 1980 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Being so sociable, Jimmy enjoyed working those side jobs as a security guard at Fun-N-Games in the Willowbrook Mall and at Burger King. He became friends with everyone he met, and the owner of the arcade was no exception. As a result, Jimmy could bring his girls to the arcade any time he was off duty, and Stacie and Jamie are proud that they learned to drive so well because of a lot of time playing Pole Position.

During his years on the force, Jimmy enjoyed a well-respected reputation for being an excellent marksman. When involved in firearms training, shooting a 300 is considered a perfect score. Well, Jim shot plenty of 300’s and this earned him the privilege of being an FBI-trained firearms instructor with the Wayne Police Department and Passaic County Police Academy. Before retiring in 2004 as a Corporal, he worked primarily as a patrolman but also spent some time in the detective bureau. As a member of the Passaic County SPCA, he also worked to protect the welfare and rights of animals. Above all, Jimmy had a big heart and he loved helping people. For example, he did his best to help a homeless man who had a substance abuse problem. Concerned that giving the man cash for food would result in too great a temptation to buy more alcohol, Jim told the man that any time he got hungry, he could go into a local luncheonette in Mountain View, order any food he’d like, and charge the bill to Jim’s running tab. We could share a hundred stories like this one because Jimmy always did what it took to be the best cop he could be.

James Mastej was passionate about his hobbies outside of work, too. In earlier days, it was motorcycle riding with Patty and their neighbor Joyce. Then it was boating on Lake Hopatcong on the “Offspring” with his offspring and their friend Caren, who he always considered a “Mastej Family appendage!” Later, after retiring, Jimmy started taking flying lessons, but a diagnosis of diabetes prevented him from ultimately becoming licensed. This was a disappointment, but he eventually found his next passion with the game of golf. Not only did he get part-time jobs at the Passaic County and the Sunset Valley golf courses, he always enjoyed playing any chance he got.

On the home front, Jim was the best husband, father, and grandfather anyone could ask for. When he was working the midnight shift, he’d drive by the house and shine his big search light up into Stacie’s bedroom when he saw that she was up reading, just to say hi. He coached Stacie and Jamie’s soccer teams; they were never terribly good, but they sure had fun! He enjoyed simple things in life. A good meal with the family or friends? Yes, please. A midnight ride with Patty to the post office to get their mail? Sign him up. Watching some TV in his comfy leather chair? You bet. A Costco run? Oh, there was nothing he liked more than one of those! Eventually, their basement had more stock in it than Costco itself. When his kids and grandkids came to visit, they could literally shop in his basement. And they did. Always so generous, he was happy to give you anything he thought you might need. More, in fact. It’s safe to say that Jim couldn’t come back from the store without buying Erin and Megan some cute little outfit, toy, or book. With a sparkle in his eye, he’d say something like, “These just happened to fall into my cart at Costco.” When he would visit his daughters, he would hide two-dollar bills for them to discover weeks or months later in the craziest places, like in the toilet paper roll, the ceiling fan, the back of a picture frame, his granddaughters’ dresser drawers, tucked between a stack of shirts. When Erin or Megan would discover one, she’d shout, “Grandpa!” and run to the phone to call him. “Guess what I found,” she’d yell and thank him profusely. They hope they haven’t found the last of them and that they’ll have that rush of joy six months or a year from now in finding another little reminder that he was here, and he was generous, and he loved to surprise us.

Jimmy will be remembered for being one of the most caring human beings that ever walked this earth. This is not hyperbole; it is accurate. Whether it was learning sign language so he could better communicate with his deaf next-door neighbors, or notarizing something that you needed notarized (he was extremely proud that he was a notary), or washing his daughter’s friends’ cars when they came over to visit, Jim would give you the shirt off his back. Don’t ever express interest in something in front of Jim because he would buy it for you. Rest in peace dear Jimmy!

Jim was the beloved husband of Patricia. They were blessed with 48 years of marriage. He was the most loving father of Stacie and husband John Collins of Old Tappan, and Jamie and husband Andy De Vault of Richmond, VA; cherished grandfather of Erin and Megan Collins; and dear brother of Joseph and wife Barbara Mastej of Siler City, NC, Edmund Mastej of Vero Beach, FL, Frank Mastej of West Haven, CT, Michael Mastej of Siler City, NC, and Jerry and wife Judy Wisnofsky of Wayne. He was predeceased by his sister Wanda Mastej, and his two brothers: Stephen Mastej and Henry Wisnofsky.

Friends may visit with the family on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 from 4-8 PM at the Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home, 567 Ratzer Road, Wayne.

Funeral services will be held at 9:45 AM on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 from the funeral home then to Our Lady of the Valley R.C. Church, 630 Valley Road, Wayne, where an 11:00 AM Mass will be offered.

In lieu of flowers, those planning an expression of sympathy in Jim’s name are asked to consider St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memorial Processing, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105-9959 or at www.stjude.org

 

Guest Book

8/12/2017

We only knew Jim for a short time at Sunset Valley Golf Course but he touched all who met him with his giving spirit.

Tami Henery

8/12/2017

my wife Donna and I are so sorry to hear of Jims passing. he was a great guy with a good sense of humor, we enjoyed his visits in North Carolina when he was passing through. you will be in our prayers.

Lee Cannon

8/12/2017

Thank you for all you did for the animals of Passaic County in your long time with the SPCA.

Jesse Traynor

8/12/2017

Our condolences. Will never forget and will always have a memory of you in Las Vegas. It meant the world to us. We still talk about it to this day! Our deepest sympathy. Gone to soon.

Tammy Conforth

8/13/2017

I am so saddened by the news. Way too young. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Angel Euripides

8/13/2017

Honored to have known Jim; a good man, a good neighbor.

Keith Nystrom

8/13/2017

Dearest patty,Stacy,and Tracy, we have no way to express our deepest hurt and emptiness with your loss. Our deepest condolences can not be properly expressed. The bond between Jimmy and myself did not begin the day he joined the police force, it began the day we moved you from elegys island to alps road, and has never been questions broken or threatened to this day. I will always cherish his visit to our home in safety harbor Florida, with him dragging me around to different gun shops to find the newest ruger lcp2 pistol, and yes we both bought one. In closing I would like to say "no finer man can be found in Wayne n.j. than jimmy" May God bless you and your family. All our sympathy and love, Bruce and Landa Smith. PS Landa today is a great shot due to Jimmys range training.

Bruce smith

8/13/2017

Patty So sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds like you and Jim had a wonderful life together. Sounds like the one I share with Ann. I will always remember our growing up together on Alberta Dr. I am happy for you that you and Jim had a wonderful life together. Cherish the memories. Ken and Ann Perry

ken perry

8/13/2017

Dear Pat & family - There are never enough words to express understanding how you feel. Prayers and thoughts are with you. I never met Jim but after reading his obituary makes me feel like I missed missing a wonderful person. He will be missed but he is always in your heart and memories and that's special. May Jim rest in peace and you find comfort in the beautiful fulfilled life you had of 48 years. ((Hugs))

Anne Di Stefano Brauer

8/13/2017

Dear Pat and family, Words cannot adequately express our shock and sadness over Jim's death. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Elaine and John Rowin

8/14/2017

Jamie, That was a beautiful obituary. Such a wondrous tribute to such a Loving and generous man!! Our deepest condolences to you and your family. Much Love to You All?????? Tom and Sally Tracy

Tom and Sally Tracy

8/14/2017

I am so very sorry for your loss Mastej Famiky. I met Jimmy as a teenager working at Burger King on Route 23. He never allowed any funny business in or out of that restaurant and every kid around respected him for it. Some of them learned a lesson or two from him to move on to a better future. I just recently bumped into him and Patty at BJs and am grateful for that opportunity too have seen him once again. Jim was a decent, kind and responsible person. They just don't make them like him anymore. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Take care, Kelli Shiels (McGarrity)

Kelli Shiels (McGarrity)

8/14/2017

Sending heartfelt sympathies to Pat and all of the Mastej family. We will miss all of Jimmy's emails and updates to the Wayne PD retirees - he certainly kept everybody in the know about what was going on! Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you try and cope with this loss. Hope all of your wonderful memories bring you peace in the days to come.

Carol & Al Greenough

8/14/2017

Dear Pat and Mastej family, our deepest sympathy and condolences to all. We will also miss all of Jimmey's updates to the PD retirees, living so far away it was such a nice way to keep in touch. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Sheila and Jay Rubin

Jay and Sheila Rubin

8/15/2017

I would like to extend my prayers and condolences to the Mastej family. Jim was my Field Training Officer when I first went on the WPD and not only did he serve as an excellent instructor, he and his wife, Pat, extended the courtesy of inviting me to share meal breaks at their table. Likewise, throughout his career he was a valued co worker, friend and advisor. In retirement, he kept the retired members up to date on events occurring that could effect our lives. I will miss him. May his soul live on in the highest kingdom of heaven.

SFC. Mark Correal (Ret.)

8/15/2017

To the Mastej family, I spent many, many visits with Jim, during that time I learned so much about what a wonderful man he was. It was a pleasure caring for him, he was always a fun person to have at the office, the staff and I all always enjoyed his coming by. He will surely be missed by all. Warmest wishes and strength through these difficult times.

Dr. Michael F. Kowalski

8/15/2017

"Dear Pat and family, please accept my deepest condolences. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May your many wonderful memories be your greatest treasures..."

Marge Heiss Schlomann


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