Roselle renames street after first black council member

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ROSELLE, NJ — During a street renaming ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 27, lifelong resident George “G.G.” Woody Jr. was joined by his family, Mayor Donald Shaw, other local dignitaries and members of the community to honor his legacy by dedicating the block of East Ninth Avenue between Chestnut and Walnut streets as “George ‘G.G.’ Woody Way.”

Woody, 95, is a local business owner and the first black member of the Borough Council. He has shown great commitment and dedication to the town, according to 3rd Ward Councilwoman Cynthia Johnson, the event organizer.

“It was important to do this for G.G. Woody while he is still with us, and that is why I decided to spearhead this dedication,” Johnson said. “This honor is well-deserved for a fine man who has given so much of himself to this borough.”

After serving in the Navy during World War II, Woody opened the G.G. Woody Funeral Home in Roselle in 1953.

Shortly thereafter, Woody was elected the first black councilman in Roselle in 1957. He served as council president and chairperson of the Public Safety Committee. He has also served as the chairperson of the Roselle Democratic Committee and chairperson of the Union County Democratic Committee. He was the first African American to be elected county chairperson of either major party in the entire state.

“Mr. G.G. Woody has always been an ally and important figure in this community and it is great to honor him,” Shaw said. “He has pushed me and others to follow in his footsteps and be community leaders.”

Woody is a graduate of Abraham Clark High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, excelled in football and played drums in the school band. In his adult life, he was appointed by then Gov. Brendan Byrne, who died in 2018, as executive director of the New Jersey Urban Loan Authority; he was a board member of the Urban League of Eastern Union County; he served as the chairperson of the Union County Improvement Authority; and he was an assistant general clerk for the New Jersey State Senate.
The event featured a walk down East Ninth Avenue, past Woody’s house and the G.G. Woody Funeral Home, as well as a reception.

Photos Courtesy of Live Meier