Little Big Man -Tony Bucco

The funeral mass for Anthony Bucco will be at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church Monday, Jan. 24 at 11 a.m. Visitation with the family will be Sunday at Day’s Funeral Home, Route 35, Keyport, between 2 and 4 p.m. and again between 6 and 8 p.m.

He was the biggest little man to everyone who knew him, knew of him, or was helped by him.

The words of prayer and sympathy pouring into Facebook and every other media over the death of Tony Bucco give some insight into the kind of man he was. Words like “wonderful, wise, amazing, with Carol, the kindest couple ever,” a Book of Knowledge, and gentle.

They all show the many varied ways Tony Bucco touched the lives of so many others. At five foot, six inches tall, Tony never felt he was a ‘short’ man but took a lot of good natured ribbing over it. He used to joke they there weren’t too many men he looked up to, anyway, but certainly General Douglas MacArthur was one hero.

Tony loved telling his stories about when he served in World War II with Gen. MacArthur in the Philippines; he told how he was only one of five Bucco brothers from Matawan who served…the sixth was willing but deferred…and how all came home safely.

The Bucco name was long revered and respected in Matawan before Tony brought the same respect and reverence for the name and what the Buccos stand for to Highlands. He earned his nickname as the Lone Ranger while he was serving on the borough council…a staunch Republican, he still only ever voted his conscience, many times opposing the majority on the governing body and his own party. But he would shrug his shoulders and say quietly, “I voted the way I thought it was right to vote.”

But when one thinks of Tony, one also remembers his wife, Carol, as the two were inseparable, both working to improve their beloved Highlands, both involved in their church and all its activities, raising their family together, neighbors and friends to all they met. So it does not seem strange that Tony died last week and his funeral is Jan. 24; Carol died one year ago on Jan. 26.

While I well remember Tony from serving on the Highlands Council over a 20 year span, it’s those Sunday mornings in the past few years that I spent with both Carol and Tony that taught me the kind of people they are, the kind of man Tony has always been. Since both were a bit infirm, I would bring them communion to their apartment on Shore Drive; we would sit for a few minutes, chat about the affairs of the day, the political changes we liked and did not like. I would check how far Tony completed on whichever jigsaw puzzle was on the table; there was always one of 500 or 1,000 pieces he was working on, and he would tell me which pieces were hardest to find, or how he could finish one part of the puzzle because of the colors. Even after he went to the Care Center after Carol’s death, he always had a jigsaw puzzle he was working on.

But once the Sunday morning conversation was finished, the mood changed at the Bucco home as both Carol and Tony prepared themselves to receive communion. Each said some silent prayers and conversation switched between Carol and Tony and a friend, to Carol and Tony and God. They each held out their hands, said whatever prayers they held in their hearts, then reverently looked up, said Amen, and received their God in communion. They bowed in prayer then, as I left without another word.

The week after Carol died, Tony, mournful but so accepting and understanding, said, “I always thought I would go before her.”For Tony and Carol Bucco, I think they are happier in January of 2022 than any year before


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