William L. Huneke, of Forked River, Lacey formerly of Toms River, passed away in his home the morning of Sunday, July 30 after a courageous three-year battle with colon cancer. He had just celebrated his sixty-ninth birthday on July 14.
Bill, as he was called by his family and friends, grew up in Clifton, New Jersey, the only son of Dorothy and Lester Huneke. He attended Clifton High School and was a proud member of the Clifton Mustang Marching Band. He continued to play the saxophone as a member of the Rutgers University Marching Band as an undergraduate; he graduated as a Henry Rutgers Scholar with his B.A. in History, Phi Beta Kappa, from Rutgers University in 1976. During his college years, he was also president of the student government. He continued his studies at Rutgers Newark Law School, earning his J.D. in 1979, after which he was admitted into the New Jersey District Court. He worked in personal litigation with Travelers and Royal & Sun Alliance, before opening his own private practice in the early 2000s.
During his long legal career, Bill wore many hats. He served as a municipal court judge in Franklin Township for seven years, where he also was a member of the planning board for four years, and chair of that board for one year. He worked for the American Arbitration Association as an arbitrator; he served as a court-appointed arbitrator for the New Jersey Superior Court as well as a civil case arbitrator in several counties across New Jersey.
In addition to his busy career, Bill was also an active member of his alumni and other community organizations. As a Loyal Son of Rutgers, he proudly served as a member of the Rutgers Alumni Association, including as Chair of the Reunion Committee and as a member of the Rutgers Alumni Association Board of Directors. He also wrote for the Rutgers Alumni Magazine. For his service to his alma mater, he was awarded the Rutgers Class of ’31 Award at his tenth reunion, given to the member of the class deemed to have made the most contributions to Rutgers and society. He more recently used these skills to contribute to the Sea Breeze Civic Affairs group and the Sea Breeze Arbitration Committee, as well as writing for and serving on The Breeze Way committee. This work built on his previous community leadership as the former President of the Somerset Meadows at Dover HOA and other similar organizations.
An avid collector, Bill parlayed his primary interests—sports and politics—into substantial collections and related hobbies. A life-long sports enthusiast, Bill was a particular fan of car racing, both Nascar and Indianapolis 500, attending these and other races yearly and collecting related memorabilia. He worked as a sports writer for various newspapers and magazines covering the races he loved, especially the Indianapolis 500, which he attended for forty-two years straight as a member of the “Old Timers’ Club.” Equally fervent was his interest in politics. He amassed a vast collection of political and campaign memorabilia over the course of his life, about which he gave talks to different local historical societies and communicated with other collectors. The political memorabilia collection he leaves behind is also a testament to his own political involvement, having previously served as a New Jersey delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1976, as well as other roles within local and state political organizations.
Bill and his partner, Sharon, could frequently be found on the beaches of Ortley Beach and Seaside Park, collecting sea glass and enjoying the shore life. He also loved attending sporting events and concerts with his stepson, Brian. A more recent pastime was his late-in-life adoption of Zumba; he attended classes until the last weeks of his life.
Bill was a vibrant, natural leader in the courtroom, in his community, and on the dance floor. He met his diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer with bravery and good cheer, fighting every moment of the last three years and living life to the fullest. He was a model of perseverance and not letting setbacks define him. Bill believed in the power of gratitude. Knowing that we are not promised another day on this earth, he believed in the importance of finding gratitude for the small things and enjoying every moment with his family and friends, especially Sharon, who he called the love of his life.
Bill is predeceased by his parents, Dorothy and Lester Huneke, and survived by his loving partner of twenty-three years, Sharon Thompson, her daughter Courtney Thompson (m. Scott DiGiulio), as well as his stepsons Brian Sforza (m. Alicia Barbieri) and Kevin Sforza (m. Anthony May). The family will be hosting a viewing on Thursday, August 3 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm at Layton’s Home for Funerals (250 W. Lacey Road, Forked River). A private memorial service will be held for the family at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Bill’s name to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. For additional information or to leave condolences for the family please visit laytons.net.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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