NJ school worker killed by car outside school was a beloved family man

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Summer hasn’t even officially started but Dean Battaglia was already excited for fall.

His beloved son Ryan was going to be a freshman on the Bloomsburg University football team and Battaglia was not going to miss a beat.

“Dean had already mapped out all the games, made hotel reservations so he could see every game even if it meant traveling for hours,” his sister Sherrie Lubonski told NJ Advance Media.

Battaglia’s plans sadly came to an end last week when the South Brunswick school grounds maintenance worker was hit and killed by a vehicle on Wednesday while spraying weeds along a sidewalk at Crossroads North High School.

The Middlesex County Attorney’s Office has not released any further information about the crash, which happened around 10.30am Wednesday. No charges were filed Monday and a spokeswoman declined to answer questions.

In the meantime, the family of the 53-year-old beloved father, brother and uncle are preparing for his funeral, which will take place in South Plainfield on Thursday.

“It’s hard to put into words what an amazing person my brother was,” Lubonski said. “I’ll be lost without him.”

Lubonski will not be alone. She said her brother lived for his two children, coaching when he was younger and a constant presence in the stands at Ryan’s football and lacrosse games and daughter Alexandra’s field hockey and lacrosse games in Delaware. Valley High School in Milford, Pennsylvania.

“As an adult, Dean was still a big kid. He had a smile that lit up a room and a quirky laugh,” Lubonski said. “He was always cheering the loudest in the stands, cracking jokes and telling stories. He knew someone everywhere he went. Dean had a great personality but a soft and kind heart. He would do anything for his family or his friends.

Battaglia also treated her colleagues and the students of Southern Brunswick like family. In addition to working the grounds and helping to prepare the sports fields for gaming competitions, Battaglia was also a bus driver for the district sports teams.

“He loved the kids and they loved him,” Lubonski said. “He often laughed and sang with the children on the bus.”

Superintendent of Schools Scott Feder, in a letter to the school community on Thursday, said Battaglia was a “beloved” member of the district and a longtime employee of the buildings and grounds department.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, colleagues and friends. We all mourn this sad loss,” Feder wrote.

Battaglia grew up in a united family in Edison with his parents and two sisters, Sherrie and Kelly. Sports were a big part of his life as well as family vacations to Wildwood and Hillside Lodge in the Poconos, Lubonski said.

“We were a very close family, we did everything together,” Lubonski said.

His brother went on to play football and baseball at Edison High School and later moved to Pennsylvania, where his two children were born.

Battaglia then returned to New Jersey, settling in southern Brunswick where he opened a landscaping business and remained active in sports, continuing to play in adult softball leagues and staying close to his family.

Years later, he still enjoyed trips to the Jersey Shore with his family, which always included a slice of pizza on the boardwalk and fries with vinegar, his sister noted.

“He was boogie boarding, doing all the boardwalks and cannonballing with them in the pool. He was a fun uncle.

A die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Battaglia could often be seen dressed in black and gold and regularly traveled to games in Pittsburgh, his older sister said. When the holidays rolled around, Battaglia was all-in on those as well. Her favorite was Christmas – “baking cheesecakes, decorating, baking and watching Jack Frost and all the Santa Claus movies,” her sister said.

Battaglia is also survived by his fiancée Doreen Carbone, who has three daughters. In addition to Lubonski and her younger sister Kelly Luno and their husbands, Battaglia is survived by five nieces. Her parents Fred and Gerri died earlier this year.

Visitation for Battaglia will be Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon and evening at the South Plainfield Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at the same location.

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Jeff Goldman can be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com.

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