Anthony L. Bersani, a veteran New Jersey newspaper editor known for his keen news judgment and biting wit, died Monday after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 47.
Bersani, who worked at newspapers in Atlantic City, Asbury Park and East Brunswick and for The Associated Press news service, died at St. Peter’s University Hospital.
“If you talk to 100 people about Tony Bersani, 100 of them will comment about his humanity and his sense of humor,” said attorney Daniel B. Carroll, a longtime friend. “He was a better person, a better man than most of us will ever be.”
A native of Philadelphia, Bersani graduated from Delsea Regional High School in Franklin Township and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Glassboro State University before starting his journalism career at The Press of Atlantic City.
He rose from stringer and freelance contributor to become an editor before joining the Asbury Park Press in 1985, where he served as deputy Sunday editor.
“What I loved best about being edited by Tony was the humor that he brought to what sometimes can be a painful process,” said Jeffrey Gold, an AP reporter who worked under him at Asbury Park. “He always managed to find the light side.”
Bersani was named managing editor of The Home News Tribune in East Brunswick in 1993.
He later worked for Beneficial Corp., Summit Bank and Dow Jones before going to work for AP as a news technology specialist at its Cranbury operation.
In 2001, he was diagnosed with carcinoid — a rare form of cancer– after an appendectomy, but continued to work, and also joined the East Brunswick Rescue Squad and became an emergency medical technician.
“He called it his mid-life crisis,” Stacey Bersani, his wife of 10 years, said Monday. “Instead of getting a Corvette, he wanted to help people.”
Bersani, of East Brunswick, is survived by his wife, the couple’s 8-year-old daughter, Angela; his mother, Pauline Bersani, of Elk Township; a brother, Angelo C. Bersani, Jr., of Orlando, Fla., and a sister, Carolyn Ferrucci, of Franklin Township.
Funeral services will be held at 9:45 a.m. Thursday at The Brunswick Memorial Home, followed by a 10:30 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at St. Thomas Church in Old Bridge. Burial will be at Holy Cross Burial Park, in South Brunswick.
“That wake is going to have a line out the door, around the corner and down the block,” said Carroll, a former night city editor at The Home News Tribune. “You better get there early.”