New Jersey lost 4 grand figures in 2023: Berson, Farrell, Fiordaliso and Oliver

A champion for the environment. A hero for Newark. A model for grace. An icon for us all.

The saddest part of the end of a year is remembering those we lost along the way.

Our annual yearbook of ROI Influencers shows we lost four friends whose impact and influence were felt way beyond the pages of a magazine.

Consider this: Joe Fiordaliso, Marc Berson, Jeremy Farrell and Sheila Oliver were so humble about their achievements, so driven to improve the lives of others, that they likely were embarrassed that anyone felt they should be saluted.

But, oh, how they should be.

Fiordaliso was a true public servant. A former mayor, he found his true calling while serving as the longtime head of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Fiordaliso was someone who put the good of the planet above all else, a person who spent his final years working to ensure his grandchildren — everyone’s grandchildren — would inherit a globe with clean air and water and less pollution. How noble is that?

Berson was a successful developer, and one who used that success to help develop what he really cared about: Newark, the city of his birth. Berson worked tirelessly to ensure residents would have better options for education and the arts — that the city would be a source of economic growth and prosperity from which all residents could prosper. And, for all he did publicly, those who know him best said the generosity Berson showed privately set him apart.

Farrell served multiple roles in the growth of Jersey City, but friends will best remember his willingness to put people first — as in, the person with whom he was speaking. A gentle giant in the grandest way possible, Farrell had the ability to make everyone feel special. In a world filled with distractions, Farrell had the unique ability to make every conversation feel like the most important of the day. Conversations that often were followed up with efforts to comfort or help as needed.

Oliver is the ultimate example of good government. She served at both the local and statewide levels, becoming the first woman of color in New Jersey to serve as both Assembly speaker and lieutenant governor. And she never forgot where she came from along the way. A native of Newark, she lived her entire life in Essex County, eventually moving to East Orange. And, while she was “the first” to do so much, her ultimate goal was to pave the way for many “seconds.”

Four icons. Four heroes. Four people who will be forever missed.

Here are some of the people we lost in 2023: