From business to community service, this year’s inductees of the Warren County Hall of Fame, to be celebrated at the 7th Annual Warren County Hall of Fame dinner on Saturday, Oct. 29, ran the gamut in being leaders in Warren County and in many cases, beyond.
Here are some details about this year’s Hall of Fame inductees:
Nancy Brown- Nancy Brown, longtime resident of Hackettstown and now living in Belvidere, has had a varied career in Retail, Human Resources, Marketing and Development, and Bank management. She was a former Legislative Aide with Assemblywoman Connie Myers and served as Office Manager and Director of Constituent Services with Assemblyman John DiMaio. Brown was an active member of the WCCC Foundation, serving until recently as Chair Emeritus. She is a valued member of the Warren County Community College community (“I am so proud of how the college has grown”) and the community at-large, as an active member in whatever volunteer effort she endeavors to partake in. “My parents always said to give back and that’s what I have tried to do. My hobby has been to be a community leader.”
Helene Meissner- Helene Meissner of Phillipsburg is always in the middle of any cause and has had great impact of Phillipsburg and her community for the last two decades. She serves currently as the Director of NORWESCAP Food Bank. A longtime member if Kiwanis, she has been the advisor for the Phillipsburg High School Key Club for decades and has inspired many students in the high school. Meissner also serves as a key administrator for the NJ Key Club district. Through Kiwanis and other efforts, Helene is constantly working hard to improve the community and the life of others. Meissner says that working for NORWESCAP has been her “dream job” and that her work with the Phillipsburg Key Club for the past 23 years as advisor has been one of her proudest accomplishments.
Robert Petersen- Robert Petersen, a native of Independence Township, is currently a consultant with a veteran-owned and operated business specializing in Strategic Planning and Processing. Previously, he was a Brigadier General in the Pennsylvania National Guard for more than 10 years and was Chief of Police/OEM Officer in Independence Township for 32 years. He was in the US National Guard for 25 years. Petersen holds degrees and certifications from County College of Morris, William Paterson University, Rutgers University, and the US Air Force. Petersen is also a Military Outreach Coordinator, supporting military families and veterans. He is a life member of the National Guard and the International Association of Police Chiefs. Clearly, Petersen could have taken the easy road, however his devotion to country makes him not only a heralded career law enforcement figure, but someone who has given of himself to make our country safer throughout the world.
Alexander Rinaldi, Esq- A Warren County resident for 26 years who in addition to his legal responsibilities, Rinaldi has also volunteered and served Warren County by volunteering as legal counsel for the North Warren Midget Football League and the North Warren Wrestling Team, as well as was elected onto the Knowlton Township School Board for two (2) terms where he eventually rose to the position of Vice-President of the Board. Rinaldi has also volunteered with North Warren sports for almost twenty years. He also is a volunteer Early Settlement Panelist (ESP) in court matrimonial cases in both Warren County and Morris County and is a volunteer Guardian for children in DYFS cases. Rinaldi was also a long time member of the Boxing Writers Association and partner of the international boxing publication known as “THE USA BOXING NEWS”. In 2014, he was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. Recently, for his national philanthropic efforts, Rinaldi was awarded with the prestigious George “Superman” Reeves Memorial Award and the Superman of Metropolis Award for “Helping to Make the World a Better Place.” Quietly, and without looking for any fanfare, Rinaldi has proven to be one of Warren County’s best kept secrets.
Ed Rossi- Ed Rossi, owner of Rossi Chevrolet Buick GMC on Route 31, was three years ago a nominee for the Time Magazine Dealer of the Year, which recognizes dealers who exhibit exceptional business performance and distinguished community service. Ed was the only nominee from New Jersey among 45 from around the country. Rossi is currently Vice President (former president) of the Washington Business Improvement District’s (WBID) Board of Directors. He has been a board director since the organization’s inception in 2003. Under Rossi’s guidance, the WBID took a lead role in pursuing improvements, particularly downtown. During Rossi’s presidency, the downtown’s $2.1 million streetscape project was completed, as well as a separate state-of-the-art parking lot in the center of the downtown. With his leadership, the parking lot project came in well under budget, leaving the WBID with enough funds to eventually build what is known as the Pocket Park in the center of the downtown. He was a member of Rotary for many years and continues to be a supporter of many local projects, including the recent initiation of the Rt. 31 Shuttle bus service. Ed is a huge supporter of non-profits, including Abilities of Northwest Jersey, Arc of Warren County, and WCCC. Rossi, a second generation son of immigrants from Italy, credits his “very powerful family” for his hard-working ethic and his commitment to making the area a better place to live and work.
Jim Ringo- Phillipsburg High School graduate (class of ’49) Jim Ringo is the only Warren County high school grad to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. After graduating from Syracuse University in 1953, Ringo played in the NFL for 15 seasons, 11 of which were played with the Green Bay Packers, and was chosen for the Pro Bowl 10 times. His achievements on the field were extensive, including 182 consecutive starts. Later, he became the head coach of the Buffalo Bills for one season. When he was first drafted, he became intimidated and wanted to quit, but those who knew him back in Phillipsburg told him to at least give it a try. His ties to Phillipsburg remained strong and retired PHS coach Bob Stem said Ringo voluntarily came back to the school every year to teach skills to the high school players. Ringo died in 2007 at the age of 75.
Charles Smith- Charles C. Smith, founder of Smith Motor Company in Washington, first established a Ford Agency in 1925. This avid businessman was also Director of the Washington Trust Company for 45 years and was an active member of the Washington Chamber of Commerce. He was also a Rotarian, had membership in the Mansfield Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, Trenton Consistory of Scottish Rite Masons, and The NJ Shrine Club, in which he served as president, among others. In addition to the support he provided to many other charitable organizations, Smith devoted a substantial portion of his estate to helping young people in Warren and Hunterdon counties obtain vocational, collegiate, or professional training. In 1973 he established the Charles C. Smith Educational Foundation, a non-profit charitable corporation that, through a Board of Trustees, still awards a number of four-year scholarships to local high school students each year.
This year’s Hall of Fame Dinner is scheduled for Sat. Oct. 29 at Hawk Pointe Country Club. The event is open to the public. Tables may be reserved. The establishment of the Warren County Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Warren County Community College Foundation, creates a forum for honoring Warren County’s finest in an array of fields. The Hall of Fame itself is set up at Warren County Community College, where the public is invited to see it. For tickets to the recognition dinner and other information, please call 908-835-2334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update 9/18/16: A previous version spelled the name of an inductee incorrectly.