Rev. Joseph Howard Garlic

November 14, 2022


On November 14, 2022 in the early morning hours our beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, mentor and friend returned to his lord and savior Jesus Christ. Born on September 11, 1931 in Woodstown New Jersey to Beatrice and Hezekiah Garlic, Rev. Joseph Howard Garlic was an above average student and avid reader. He graduated from Woodstown High School and received a Bachelors of Arts from Bloomfield College. Joe, as he was called by his 10 siblings, was known for his quiet demeanor, quick wit and passionate temperament. Rev. Garlic had just graduated from Hartford seminary in Connecticut when love found its way into his heart and he married Hazel Louise Howell. Their union resulted in the birth of three daughters, Valencia, Heidi and Krishna. In 1966 the seminary commissioned Rev Garlic and his wife to relocate to Elizabeth NJ and build community. And build community is exactly what they did for over fifty years.

Under the direction of the Presbytery of Elizabeth, Rev. Joseph Garlic, an ordained minister, was charged with developing a spirit filled, impactful project in the E’port section of the City Of Elizabeth. Through that initiative the E’port Presbyterian Center was born. In a storefront on First Street, the original “Pres,” as it is fondly called, was started and although the building has been replaced and built anew, the core principles of love for thyself, invest deeply in children and families, pride in heritage and community all with an undeniable focus on God’s presence, and has remained as a solid foundation. Through Rev. Garlic’s leadership hundreds of Pres kids graduated from high school, attended college, became gainfully employed, avoided interactions with law enforcement, moved into better housing conditions, learned to love themselves, traveled the country and grew into dedicated, responsible members of the community.

Recognizing that affordable housing was a major challenge in the E’port, Rev. Garlic and a group of dedicated Board Members founded Brand New Day, Inc. Brand New Day not only developed affordable housing but provided valuable community education that led to major community revitalization. Rev. Garlic served on the Board of Directors until his retirement but remained an active advisor to those in need. Over the years Rev. Garlic ministered to many by guest preaching at numerous Presbyterian churches including Siloam Hope Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, Roseville Presbyterian Church in Newark and Bethel Presbyterian Church in Plainfield.

Amongst the many honors bestowed upon Rev. Garlic, his legacy lives on through the Rev. Joseph H. Garlic Daycare Center, Rev. Joseph H. Garlic Way, numerous community awards, the Key to the City of Elizabeth, proclamations and accolades. Although each of these accolades were appreciated by him, the recognition that meant the most to him over the years were the countless Pres kid alumni who called and visited with stories about the “REV” saving, changing, and enhancing their life.

Many of the freedom fighters of old would remember Rev. Garlic as a fierce advocate for Black Civil Rights. He was an activist for change! He marched during the riots in the 60”s, he challenged the establishment on police brutality, he demanded better education in schools and boldly visited the elected officials to open their eyes to injustice. Rev. Garlic would often be called out his bed to bail someone out who found themselves in trouble, visited those who found themselves imprisoned, visited the sick and prayed with families and friends. Rev. Garlic found the perfect balance between spiritual leader and community servant. He and his wife and supporters not only hosted countless free thanksgiving feedings but also nightly fed countless children who were not only hungry for food but starving for love and belonging. For so many, 126 Broadway became home and extended family still return to visit the Garlics.

On most weekends and many weekdays, you could find Rev. Garlic in Livingston playing bridge. He became such a skilled bridge player that he would compete throughout the country. He won many bridge tournaments and studied the game intently. His children have fond memories of caddying for bridge games as a part of family vacations.

Rev. Joseph Garlic leaves to mourn him his wife Hazel L. Garlic, his children Valencia (Tyce), Heidi, Krishna (Reginald), granddaughters Evangelina, Khyla, Jasmine, and Shaina, grandsons Jerome (Evelyn), Jerrell, Qasim, Khalil, great-grandchildren Nayaisha, Jaylynn, Kylie, E’cila, E’bere, Eva and Kobe. He also leaves his siblings Madeline, Edward, Edwin, Barbara, Evelyn, and Alvin (Ida). His presence will also be missed by the many extended family members who he called daughter, son, and grandchild. He also leaves to cherish his memory nieces, nephews, cousins, a community he loved, and a host of family and friends.

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