After treatment for lymphoma in 2001, Mr. Cruz enjoyed 13 years in remission, during which he sold his business and became an enthusiastic member of the Boca Grande community. He and his wife, Sharon, traveled on five continents, returned to Portugal almost every year, and also enjoyed time at their home in New York City.
Mr. Cruz was born in Camarneira, Portugal on March 22, 1941, the eldest of five children. He emigrated with his family from Portugal in 1950 at age nine and initially settled in the Ironbound section of Newark. Mr. Cruz graduated from Newark College of Engineering (currently New Jersey Institute of Technology) in 1963, with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, earning his NJ Professional Engineer’s license in 1968. In 2013, Mr. Cruz received a Doctor of Science, honoris causa from NJIT.
After graduating college, Mr. Cruz joined his father at Cruz Construction Company, a leading construction concern founded in New Jersey. From 1974 to 1984, he headed the family firm with his cousin Evaristo G. Cruz. In 1984, the duo founded E.E. Cruz & Company Inc.
The new company completed major infrastructure projects in New York and New Jersey, specializing in tunnels, bridges, deep foundations, and water treatment plants.
Over the years, EE Cruz grew to become an ENR Top 400 Construction Firm in the United States.
Over its 27 year history, E.E. Cruz created hundreds of jobs in the region, while consistently giving back to the community.
On 9/11, E.E. Cruz employees joined the rescue and cleanup effort at World Trade Center Ground Zero, sending equipment on barges from a nearby project in Jersey City. The company ultimately completed five separate projects at the World Trade Center site, including the National September 11th Memorial and Museum foundations. E.E. Cruz was acquired by Hochtief AG in 2010.
Mr. Cruz is a former president of the National Utility Contractors Association, the General Contractors Association of New York City, and The Moles. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Associated General Contractors of New Jersey and the Executive Committee of the General Contractors Association of New York City.
Mr. Cruz was elected mayor of Holmdel, N.J. and served on the boards of the Richmond County Savings Bank Foundation and Monmouth University.
Mr. Cruz was a philanthropic leader in his communities with an interest in education. He supported his alma maters, the Lafayette Street School and NJIT in Newark. He also continued to support the Portuguese community, particularly St. John’s Church, the Trust For Public Land, and the NJ Performing Arts Center. Mr. Cruz helped found Ironbound Bank on Pacific Street, now part of NY Community Bank. Never losing ties with Portugal, he continued to support the convalescent center in his village, Lar da Camarneira. Mr. Cruz also supported The Island School and the Health Clinic in Boca Grande, Florida. He was a major sponsor of the Monmouth County Concours d’Elegance, an annual antique car show that raises money for select New Jersey children’s charities.
Mr. Cruz recently completed his memoir, A Bold Journey, which has been eagerly anticipated and enthusiastically received by his family, friends and colleagues.
Mr. Cruz is survived by Sharon, his wife of 51 years; and his four children and their spouses, Robin and Cameron McClearn; Jeffrey and Mary Cruz; Kelly and Scott McCullers; and Susan and Peter Barkey. He is also survived by his grandchildren, whom he called, “his greatest luxury”: Michelle, her husband Dan, Connor, Taylor, Kate, Caroline, Henry, Olivia, Peter, Hilary and Liam; his mother Lidia, and his siblings. He is fondly remembered by his brother Evarett, his cousin Evaristo, and their families; extended family members and countless friends in the U.S. and Portugal.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, July 22 at 4 p.m. in the Victoria Theatre at the NJ Performing Arts Center, 1 Center Street, Newark, NJ, with a reception to follow at 5 p.m. Complimentary parking will be available in lots A, B, and C.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
The Trust For Public Land
attn: Tracy Terry
20 Community Place #7
Morristown, NJ 07960
Please designate your gift to “The Lafayette Street School Project.”