Little room was left in the St. Peter The Apostle Church as Msgr. Herbert K. Tillyer spoke in a gentle voice of a man who had given all he could to his community and country — as a councilman, an indefatigable volunteer and a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
“I know Jimmy is up in Heaven, and he’s asking someone there, ‘Is there anything I can do to help?'” Tillyer told the crowd gathered in his pews.
A lifelong Parsippany resident and township councilman from 1996 to 2008, Vigilante died Sunday morning of a heart attack at Hackensack University Hospital. He was a veteran of the Air Force and New Jersey Air National Guard and was still serving as a Air Force Reservist at the time of his death. He was 49.
Pictured above the hurst from Par-Troy Funeral Home carries the casket containing U.S. Air Force Reserves Master Sgt. James Vigilante being escorted by members of the Uncle Sam’s Avenger Motorcycle Club in front of Vigilante’s home on Littleton Road. Below, a sign at Cerbo Lumber.
At a memorial service for Vigilante, Lou Valori gave a eulogy speech in memory of Jimmy.
“Good morning everyone, I’m Lou Valori, one of Jimmy’s many, many dear friends. Nothing was small with Jimmy — Jimmy was known as a big man with a deep voice, a huge smile, giant heart and a larger-than-life personality who generously made time to talk and listen to everyone regardless of who you were. And while Jimmy most of all loved his family — his compassionate, caring heart made all his friends feel they were part of Jimmy’s family too. Jimmy was never short on invites from friends to special gatherings and events and his pictures regularly appear in family albums all across our area – indicative of how much Jimmy was loved by so many.
Jimmy’s magnetic personality and positive enthusiasm was as infectious as his smile. He always lent a smile, an ear, encouraging words and a hand for everyone whether they were friend or stranger. He possessed the gift to make friends instantaneously – giving a person he met for the first time his utmost undivided attention, courtesy and respect. Jimmy also had the uncanny ability to disarm a person in a bad mood by displaying no more than an upbeat personality, charming wit and a playful, lighthearted joke.
As councilman in Parsippany, Jimmy gave his heart and soul to provide a better township for the residents he truly loved to serve. In particular, Jimmy loved helping senior citizens with issues important to them, and seniors loved Jimmy in return tenfold. There was NEVER a shortage of second mothers for Jimmy throughout the township baking him cakes and cookies and inviting him for dinner. And if there is one thing Jimmy loved almost as much as his country, township and his family — it was EATING. He never stopped and ate almost anything that didn’t crawl — although his physique never gave away his huge, endless appetite.
And while Jimmy was a giver, he didn’t ask for anything in return. He was a man who lived to serve – not be served. When Jimmy wasn’t serving his country on the battlefield for his country, he was actively working in our community in various organizations. He volunteered his time as a member of the Disabled American Veterans, The Morris County Foster Care, The Kiwanis Club of Greater Parsippany, The Parsippany American Legion Post, the DARE program, the Big Brothers & Big Sister of Morris County and The Sons of Italy to name a few.
Jimmy loved the kids too, as he sponsored many little league and soccer teams in Parsippany. He was a member of the Parsippany Veterans Memorial Committee. And one of the latest pride and joys was being a member of the Avengers Motorcycle club – a group that continuously raises money for disabled veterans and sick children in our community.
For 16 years, Jimmy served in the United States Air force and was currently serving as a First Sergeant at McGuire Air Force Base. Serving his country was of utmost importance to Jimmy although he never thought of himself as the role model for others to follow in life. He was much too busy working to better our country and township rather than think of himself as someone to look up to.
I had the opportunity to look up the Air Force First Sergeants’ Creed; it states the following:
“I am a First Sergeant. My job is people-Everyone is my business. I dedicate my time and energy to their needs; Their health, morale, discipline and welfare. I grow in strength by strengthening my people. My job is done in faith; my people build my faith. The Air Force is my life; I share it with my people. I believe in the Air Force goal. We take care of our own My job is people- Everyone is my business.”
This Air Force creed sums up Jimmy’s life to a tee.
I would like to end this by telling Jimmy’s mom that Jimmy loved you so much and would always talk about you among people he knew for 40 years or 40 minutes, especially telling them how you always kept him in line. Brother Kevin and Uncle Eddie — he admired and loved you guys so much and always knew that you would always be at his side. To Jim’s beautiful daughter Ashley, your father loved you dearly. His legacy will live within you, and you should be truly proud of your father. Thank you Vigilantes’ so much for sharing Jimmy with our township and country. This world is a better place because of Jimmy’s dedication and tenacity to advocate for the people and deliver for the common good.
I think I speak for everyone here today that Jimmy will always live in our hearts as Parsippany’s son, neighbor, friend, public servant – and most of all — hero. ”
You can make donations in his memory to Uncle Sam’s Avenger Motorcycle Club, where Jimmy was an officer and Treasurer of the organization. Uncle Sam’s Avenger Motorcycle Club is a 501(c)3 Veteran charity. You can visit the club’s website, by clicking here, to make a donation or mail checks to Uncle Sam’s Avenger Motorcycle Club, 40 Baldwin Road, Parsippany, New Jersey 07054. Any questions please call (973) 265-2865.
I’ll miss you, my friend.
Related articles: Friends Remember Jimmy “Vig” Vigilante