For 100 years, Hamlet Gasparo Campagna, better known as Hal or Campy, has led an interesting life, from childhood in Watertown, Massachusetts to working for a Boston newspaper, fighting in World War II and finding his way to River Edge. On Monday night, he was honored by the Mayor and Council for his milestone celebration.
"It is a great honor to present this proclamation to Campy today," Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo said. "And I hope to see you again next year."
Campagna was born on Nov. 4, 1912 as one of four siblings with his brother Vincent and sisters Francis and Blanche. Following the death of their mother, Campagna and Vincent spent several years growing up in orphanages and foster homes until their father remarried and the family was reunited. During that time period, his sisters were raised by relatives.
A gifted comic artist, he started his career with the Boston American Newspaper and later transitioned to the Associated Press and subsequently the Kings Feature Syndicate. Between his time in Boston and moving to New York City, Campagna served during World War II in the coast artillery.
He would eventually purchase a home in River Edge in 1948 to raise his family of six children: Gail, Jean, Joan, Roberta, Lynn and Thomas. During his 63-year-long residency in the borough, he has been an active member of St. Peter the Apostle Church, the River Edge Boy Scouts, River Edge Lion's Club, and SCORE.
"Thank you all for honoring me, it is a great pleasure," Campagna said. "I've tried to serve River Edge as a good citizen and am glad to have made some use of my talent. I've been a resident for 63 years and I think my happiest years of my life have been spent in River Edge."
He was also presented with a plaque for his many years of service to the Lion's Club by fellow member Richard Kraus.
"I know you have been active in other clubs and service organizations, but I speak for all of the Lion's Club and you are remembered as a River Edge Lion," Kraus said.
During his time with the Lion's Club, Campagna was the group's artist in residence, designing posters and art work for events and plaques.