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Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching at the funeral mass of a man I have known for 31 years, the Hon. Paul A. Kapalko.
Paul stayed in NJ throughout his life, earning his BA from Rutgers in '76 and his JD from Seton Hall School of Law in '79. After graduation he became a proud member of the Bar Assoc., joining the law firms of Lawson & Kapalko and Lawrence & Kapalko.
He entered local politics as an Asbury Park City Councilman in '85, serving until he was appointed to the NJ State Assembly in '89. He also served as the Manasquan Municipal Prosecutor; the Planning Board attorney for Neptune, Bradley Beach and Keyport; and the Commissioner of the Monmouth Co. Improvement Authority.
In '90 he became father to his eldest daughter, my niece, Casey, and in that same year ran for Congress. He lost the race, but two years later was appointed a Judge of the NJ Division of Worker's Compensation. He welcomed his second daughter, Christina, in '94, the same year he was promoted to Director and Chief Judge of Workers' Compensation.
In '02 he was appointed by Gov. Donald DeFrancesco to the Family Division of the Superior Court of Monmouth County. He became the Presiding Judge in '04 and then transferred to the Civil Division in '07. He worked with a clear sense of justice and understanding, and was known for his ability to settle cases before ever needing to go to trial. Admired by his peers throughout his life, he dutifully served as a Superior Court Judge for 16 years.
He was a loving father, brother, and uncle. He was predeceased by his father and mother, Edward and Rose Kapalko of Asbury Park. He is survived by his daughter Casey and her wife Stephanie Vazquez, his daughter Christina, and their mother Mary Jo (nee Knipper) McKinley all of West Long Branch. Paul is also survived by his brother Gregory and his wife Cindy, as well as their children Jamie (Jeremy Glapion) and Eddie, all of Belmar. He will be missed dearly by not only his family, but also by all whose lives he touched. He will always be remembered as a fighter and as an inspiration to all.