A life well lived: Jim Garibaldi, 72

Longtime leader of Garibaldi Group loved his family, his community — and his guitar

The successes in the business world are quite good. Fabulous, actually. Jim Garibaldi, after all, was a generational leader of a brokerage firm, the Garibaldi Group, that has been thriving for 100 years.

But, when Jeff Garibaldi, the current CEO, thinks of his brother, it’s all the family times that come up in his memory.

The fun times as a kid, playing down at the Shore at Asbury Park. The incredible Giants-Jets (Meadowlands-Shea) doubleheader they did one Sunday. The moments with his wife, his children and grandchildren. The efforts he made with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization — and with the local food pantry.

Jim Garibaldi, center, at one of his many philanthropic endeavors.

Jim Garibaldi always was the life of the party. Especially when he had his guitar.

“He played all kinds of guitars, including electric, but he was really an acoustic guitarist at heart,” his brother said. “James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan. That’s what he loved to play.”

Whether it was at the clubs as a teenager or at his daughter’s wedding in the Bahamas, Jim Garibaldi loved to perform.

“Those are some of the special moments I’ll always remember,” his brother said.

Jim Garibaldi died last week at age 72.

A viewing will be held later Monday (from 4-8 p.m.) at the Wm. A. Bradley & Son Funeral Home in Chatham.

A funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick Church (85 Washington Ave. in Chatham) at 11 a.m. Tuesday, followed by a reception at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit.

You can be sure there will be plenty of colorful stories. That’s the way Jim Garibaldi would have wanted it, his brother said.

“He was always the life of the party,” he said. “Everyone knew when he arrived. And it wasn’t just because he was the biggest one in the room (Jim was 6-foot-4), but because he made everyone happy. I’ll always remember that.”

His success in the business world was just as noteworthy.

Born in West Orange to Joseph and Clare Garibaldi, Jim Garibaldi was raised in Short Hills and graduated from Xavier High School in Manhattan. He earned his bachelor’s in political science from Scranton University and went on to join the family business, starting his multidecade career at what is now a fourth-generation firm.

Garibaldi took over as the Garibaldi Group’s CEO after the death of his older brother, Joseph Garibaldi III, in 1997, and would remain in the post until summer 2020, when he became chairman.

Garibaldi had numerous successes in the business world, including executing the original lease for Investors Bank in 2004 (at 101 JFK Parkway in Short Hills). He later served on the Investors board.

Other notable clients over a 50-year career include Alfa Wasserman, Grunenthal, Unichem and Becton Dickinson.

But it was his work away from the firm that made him special.

He sponsored a young boy with Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Jersey and treated him as his own son, staying close for more than four decades.

He was a board member at the Cancer Hope Network and served as a eucharistic minister at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Chatham. He gave his time to the Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown for many years — turning it into a communitywide initiative.

“He was always looking to help those who weren’t as fortunate,” his brother said.

Jeff Garibaldi Jr. remembered his uncle this way.

“Whether in business or in life, my uncle led with compassion,” he said. “In times of stress or hardship, he focused on ways to heal the ills he observed through taking action. He was a big man who made a big impact, both in the world of real estate, as well as with the people who were lucky enough to know and love him. He will forever be missed.”

Garibaldi leaves behind Aggie Garibaldi, his wife for nearly 50 years, as well as daughters Emily Deuchler and Meredith Molloy and their husbands (David Deuchler and Timothy Molloy). He is also survived by four grandchildren.

Jeff Garibaldi Sr. said his brother’s memory will live on in song.

“He was always there to listen and support you,” he said. “Jim was one of the funniest people and one of the most fun people to hang out with. No doubt the best days of Jim’s life were spent sitting on the Pink Beaches in Bermuda with his family and friends. We will so dearly miss him.”