JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Brendan Byrne always had a soft spot for New Jersey’s Hudson County, and now the late governor’s ashes are residing at a saloon there — temporarily.
Admirers of Byrne, who died in January at age 93, congregated Friday in Jersey City for a ceremony led by another former governor, Jim McGreevey. Byrne’s widow, Ruthi, and son Tom also attended.
Byrne used to joke that he wanted his ashes placed in Hudson County, known for its history of political shenanigans, so he could stay active in politics.
“He always had a lot of affection for Hudson County,” Tom Byrne said. “This is a great way to celebrate his life and his sense of humor.”
Byrne’s ashes will stay at Healy’s Tavern through St. Patrick’s Day, McGreevey and others said. Their final resting place is still undecided. Tom Byrne has said the family was considering locations including a state forest that bears Byrne’s name, or Liberty State Park, part of the improvement of the Hudson County waterfront that he championed in the 1970s.
Byrne, a Democrat, was elected in 1973 and served two terms. He oversaw the advent of casino gambling in Atlantic City and instituted the state’s first income tax.
The income tax made him unpopular with many residents, but he still managed to win a second term convincingly.