It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Robert J. Pagano, who left us at the age of 57 on July 15, 2023. Robert passed away at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, leaving behind a legacy of service and community that extended well beyond his home base of Green Brook, where he had resided for the past decade.
Born in Somerville, Robert spent the majority of his life in North Plainfield. It was here that he first discovered his passion for firefighting, beginning his noble journey as a volunteer at the Watchung Volunteer Fire Department. He then dedicated his career to the Plainfield Fire Department, serving Engine Company #3 of the second platoon with unwavering bravery and commitment.
Firefighting was more than a career for Robert—it was his calling. From a young age, he was captivated by the noble role of firefighters, and in the aftermath of the harrowing 9/11 tragedy, he volunteered his skills and courage at the World Trade Center. After 25 years of selfless service, Robert retired in 2019, leaving behind a rich legacy of dedication and resilience.
Upon retirement, Robert made a steadfast commitment to staying fit. A regular at the local YMCA, he also had a penchant for boating and fishing. He was a die-hard fan of the NY Yankees and NY Giants, and his fervor manifested in his custom RV, half adorned in pinstripes and the other half painted in vibrant red and blue. This was his regular chariot to the games, where he often enjoyed tailgating. For the last decade, he took such pride in throwing Dallas /Giants opening game parties with a giant screen in their yard so the many guests could view the game.
More than anything else, Robert was a people person. His charisma was infectious, and he often bumped into old friends in the most unexpected places. He was renowned for his epic 4th of July block parties, which were eagerly attended by his firefighter colleagues. These gatherings were so grand that they often resulted in the whole street being cordoned off. His absence will leave a void that cannot be filled.
Robert is predeceased by his parents, Michael Joseph Pagano and Dorothy Lee Pagano, and two brothers, Charles Pagano and Michael Pagano.
Robert is survived by his wife, Eileen Pagano, and her children, Gabrielle and Anthony Rendinelli; his three sisters, Theresa H Spisso (William L.), Carol Layman (William), and Katherine Mazza (Bruce); sister-in-law Paula Pagano; and a loving troupe of ten nieces and nephews: Teresa, Angela, Dawn, Vincent, Raychel, Carrie Sue, Stephen, Jennifer, Charles, and Laurie.
The visitation will take place on Thursday, July 20, 2023, from 4 to 8 pm at the Higgins Home for Funerals, 752 Mountain Blvd., Watchung, NJ 07069. The funeral service will commence at 10:30 am on Friday at the same location, followed by the interment at Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests memorial donations to be made to the National Ataxia Foundation at https://www.ataxia.org/donate/ in Robert's memory. His spirit of service will continue to inspire all who knew him.