Gottheimer’s Legislation Renames the Oakland Post Office in Veteran’s Honor

Apr 25, 2019
Press

Bipartisan Frank Leone Post Office Act Dedicates Facility to Former Postmaster

Above: Congressman Josh Gottheimer and Frank Leone’s widow Ellen stand in front of the plaque dedicating the Oakland USPS facility as the Frank Leone Post Office. 

OAKLAND, NJ – Today, Thursday, April 25, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) delivered remarks alongside local officials and the family of veteran and former Postmaster Frank Leone at the newly renamed Oakland post office, the Frank Leone Post Office.

Congressman Gottheimer led the bipartisan legislation – the Frank Leone Post Office Act – supported by the full New Jersey delegation of the 115th Congress, to rename the United States Postal Service facility located at 332 Ramapo Valley Road in Oakland, New Jersey, in honor of Frank Leone. The legislation was signed into law by the president in December.

At today’s dedication ceremony, Gottheimer was joined by Frank’s widow Ellen, their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, veterans from American Legion Post 369 and across Bergen County, Oakland Mayor Linda Schwager, current Oakland Postmaster Stacy Valerius, fomer Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire, former Oakland Chamber of Commerce President Charlie Wright, and local first responders to honor Frank Leone’s life work.

“Frank Leone represented the best of America, of the Greatest Generation, and that’s why we are all here today to honor him, to honor his legacy, and to put his name on this building, so generations will continue to celebrate him as we are today,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). 

Frank served our nation in the Navy during World War II. He served as a flight deck crewman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge—a ship Frank’s father helped build. After returning, Frank moved to Oakland with his wife Ellen, where, in 1967, he was formally appointed Postmaster of the Oakland Post Office by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the last presidentially appointed Postmaster in New Jersey.

Frank served as Postmaster for 48 years, during which time he also served as the President of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, an active member of the American Legion Post 369 and the Franklin Lakes VFW, Oakland’s Fire Chief, Director of Emergency Management, and Civil Defense Defender, a Deacon at the Ramapo Valley Baptist Church, and the National Vice President of the National Association of Postmasters.

The passing of the Frank Leone Post Office Act was the result of nearly four years of hard work by Frank’s family, friends, former colleagues, and local elected officials.

“Something that I think is great about the Frank Leone Post Office Act, is how it brought together New Jersey’s entire congressional delegation and members on both sides of the aisle,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “This is a testament to him and to the fact that most things – like ensuring our veterans are honored properly – should transcend politics or party. We should always put country above party.”

Video of the event can be found here.

 

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Thank you District Manager Deignan and Postmaster Valerius, for all the work you and your team do for the people of Oakland. I’m also happy to be here with Mayor Schwager – thank you for hosting us in Oakland today and for your important work in the community. I’m glad to see representatives for both Senator Menendez and Senator Booker are here, as well. I’m also looking forward to hearing from the wonderful Indian Hills Regional High School choir.

Of course, we’re really here for, Ellen Leone, and her children Frank, Rosemary, and Ann Marie, and all of her grandchildren and great grandchildren – to honor the legendary Frank Leone.

We’re standing here today at 332 Ramapo Valley Road in Oakland, New Jersey, at a building, which these days has a new name.

I’m thrilled to be here at the Frank Leone Post Office.

Ellen, I know you and Frank were married for nearly 60 years, so I’m glad you’re here with us today to see Frank’s life’s work honored in this way.

I’ve heard so much about Frank over the last years — from Ellen, from his children, his friends, from the Mayor and other current and former elected officials. What’s been clear in nearly every conversation: Frank spent his life helping so many people. He loved his community, he loved our country, he loved his work, he loved his family and friends – and spent his days putting others first. We can really see that sentiment shine through – from all of Frank’s accomplishments – and how it’s brought us all together again here today.

Frank Leone represented the best of America, of the Greatest Generation, and that’s why we are all here today to honor him, to honor his legacy, and to put his name on this building, so generations will continue to celebrate him as we are today.

In a few minutes, we will officially present Ellen and the Leone family with the signed legislation – the Frank Leone Post Office Act — officially naming the Frank Leone Post Office and unveiling the plaque that will grace this building. 

But, like others, if you’d afford me a minute, I would like to highlight a few of Frank’s accomplishments. I will never forget my first call with Ellen, when I asked her to tell me a bit about Frank. I just couldn’t believe all he accomplished, all he gave back. I think Ellen couldn’t either. And I’m not even talking about how good of a father and grandfather he was.

As we all know, Frank proudly and bravely served our nation in the Navy in World War II.. There is no commitment more sacred.

He served honorably as a crewmember on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kearsarge – a ship that Frank’s father helped build. Upon returning home from World War II, Frank moved with his wife Ellen to Oakland, where, in 1967, he was formally appointed Postmaster of the Oakland Post Office by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the last presidentially appointed Postmaster in New Jersey.

Frank served as Postmaster for forty-eight years and ran this very post office until his retirement in 2012. As others have told me, Frank had an open-door policy at work – whether you had an issue on the job or at home…Frank was there.

During this time, he never stopped giving back to the town he loved. He served as the President of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, as an active member of the American Legion Post 369 and the Franklin Lakes VFW, because we always get the backs of those who got ours. Frank was Oakland’s Fire Chief, Director of Emergency Management, and Civil Defense Defender, a Deacon at the Ramapo Valley Baptist Church, and the National Vice President of the National Association of Postmasters.

Then there’s his family. Frank has three wonderful and accomplished children – Rosemary, Ann Marie, and Frank – and his grandchildren – Luke, Ed, Hope, Aaron, Lindsay, Melissa, David, Jenna, and Brian – and all of the great grandchildren. And there’s the love of his life, Ellen.

I know one of Frank’s first goals was to become a firefighter. When he found that wouldn’t be possible – and this is what was so great about Frank – he didn’t give up…he kept going. He knew he still wanted to dedicate his life to serving his community. That determination – to keep persevering and to commit to something that matters to you – is something we can all appreciate.

His dedication to the people of Oakland was so strong that some have said all you had to do, if you didn’t have someone’s address, was write the person’s name and city of Oakland on the envelope…and Frank would make sure that letter would be delivered.

I’ve also heard from so many Postmasters around my District that Frank Leone’s service to his community was their inspiration for pursuing their line of work.  

To say that Frank led a full life is an understatement, something we can all admire and hope to emulate.

About nine months ago, I stood before many of you and announced the introduction of my bipartisan legislation to officially rename the Oakland Post Office in honor of Frank. After passing both the House of Representatives and the Senate – and having been signed into law by the President of the United States in late December – I’m so happy to be here to share this achievement with you all.

Something that I think is great about the Frank Leone Post Office Act, is how it brought together New Jersey’s entire congressional delegation and members on both sides of the aisle. Eleven colleagues of mine from the last Congress – Democrats and Republicans – stood united to get a floor vote on this legislation. I’d like to think Frank would have been proud of that fact. This is a testament to him and to the fact that most things – like ensuring our veterans are honored properly – transcend politics or party. We should always put country above party.

By honoring Frank like this, we’re marking a major step forward in honoring brave veterans just like Frank. So – and some of them are here today – I want any North Jersey veteran, first responder, or active service member to please stand up to be recognized, too. Frank would have wanted it that way.

It wasn’t just Congress and the President who made today happen. This accomplishment is the result of nearly four years of hard work by Frank’s family, friends, former colleagues, and local elected officials.

This is thanks to a great deal of effort here in Oakland. Mayor Schwager and members of the Oakland Council came together to pass a resolution to authorize the renaming of the Oakland Post Office, which was a key step in this process.

Thank you also to Oakland Postmaster Stacy Valerius, former Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire, former Oakland Chamber of Commerce President Charlie Wright, and so many others who helped lead that grassroots movement.

Thanks to the tireless work of everyone here, we were able to take a huge step towards getting things done for a wonderful man who dedicated himself to his family, his community, to New Jersey, and to the greatest country in the world, bar none.

As an emblematic leader during Frank’s generation, Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The history of free men is never written by chance but by choice – their choice.” Frank made that important choice to dedicate his life to serving his community. That dedication is what has brought all of us here today – to honor Frank for all that he did.

Thank you all and thanks especially to Ellen and all of Frank’s family, who, like me, believe that by standing on the shoulders of great women and men like Frank Leone, our best days will always be ahead of us. God bless you and may continue to bless and watch over the United States of America.

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