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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette


James Anthony Penza Jr.

James Anthony Penza Jr., 79, of Hammonton, N.J., passed away Monday, September 18, 2023 with his family by his side. Jim was born on March 9, 1944 to James V. and Gelorma “Jessie” (Rizzotte) Penza. He attended St. Joseph's Catholic School and then graduated from Malvern Preparatory School in 1961. In 1966, Jim attained his B. A. in Marketing and Management at Morris Harvey College, now the University of Charleston, in Charleston, W. Va. It was there that he met the love of his life, Judith Ann (nee Hirsh), whom he married in October 1969. After a brief military career with the U.S. Air Force Reserve stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, he came back to Hammonton to work in the family business on Washington Street, Eastern Brewing Corporation, most famously known for Old Bohemian Beer and most infamously for the Nude Beer label, with his father, his Uncle Charlie Penza, and the Fatato family, until 1978. Jim would later become a farmer establishing Red Barn Farm with the Penza family. With his trusty sidekick Felix, Jim oversaw about 300 acres of farmland, and managed the packing house and retail produce stand. During this time, he would also own and operate Penza Freightways, the Red Barn Shed Company, and still help out with the Brewery. Around 1989, his father grew ill and he returned to the brewery full time. He continued to operate the Brewery in a limited capacity with the Malta El Sol label until his retirement.

Throughout his life, Jim enjoyed fast and fancy cars, deer hunting and camaraderie with the members of Boot Hill and the Lonesome Dove Hunting Clubs, deep sea fishing on his boat in Cape May, mowing the yard, and watching westerns on television. He loved Wawa in the morning, the occasional Whopper with cheese, and a nice dinner at the Maplewood. He loved the movie Lonesome Dove and connected to its reflections on the importance of finding joy in everyday moments and valuing the companionship of loved ones. Jim was known for his big heart and generosity to any who were in his circle. He was a member of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Parish, St. Anthony of Padua Church. He was a past member of The Hammonton Greater Chamber of Commerce, N.J. Fruit Growers Association, The American Legion, New Jersey Farm Bureau, Hammonton Regular Republican Club. He donated to various local organizations annually.

He is predeceased by his parents, James and Jessie (nee Rizzotte) Penza; sister, Joann and her husband Frank Verdi; and his two best friends, Ross Restuccio and Jack Donio. He is survived by his loving wife, Judy (nee Hirsh); son, Tony (Robin) Penza of Hammonton; daughter, Jessie (Charles); and granddaughter, Paloma of Orlando, Fla.; sister, Evelyn Penza; nephews, Fred and Vincenzo (Wendy) Penza; all of Hammonton and nephew, Fran (Michelle) Verdi of Cedar Run, N.J.; and niece, Catherine Verdi of Moorestown, N.J.; as well as numerous great nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends were invited to attend his visitation from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, September 22, 2023 at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Parish – St. Anthony of Padua Church, 285 Rt. 206 Hammonton, N.J. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Entombment followed at Greenmount Cemetery, 124 S. First Road, Hammonton, N.J. 08037. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: American Farmland Trust

Arrangements entrusted to the Marinella Funeral Home.


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