RAMSEY, N.J. — Former state Supreme Court Justice Ariel Rodriguez of Ramsey died on Nov. 10. He was 70 years old.
Visitation is Nov. 16 and 17, from 5 to 9 p.m., at Vander Plaat Funeral Home, 257 Godwin Ave., Wyckoff. Visitation is at 10 a.m., Nov. 18, with a service to follow at 11 a.m.
Born in Havana Cuba on Nov. 8, 1947, Rodriguez moved to New York City with both parents and an older sister at 11 years old.
In 1966, he graduated from Berry Academy in Rome, Georgia, from Rutgers University in 1970 and Rutgers University School of Law in Camden in 1973.
In the beginning of his law career, he worked at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office from 1973 to 1976. Soon after, Rodriguez went into private practice with close friend Alvaro Iglesias. While building his practice, he taught legal courses part-time at Hudson County Community College.
On Dec. 5, 1985, Rodriguez was appointed to the New Jersey Superior Court. He was later assigned to the Appellate Division in 1993. In 2004, he was appointed Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division, Superior Court of New Jersey, a position he served from 1993 to 2012.
In October 2012, Rodriguez was temporarily assigned to the New Jersey Supreme Court until his retirement in September 2014. During his professional life, he wrote 120 published opinions, including 14 for the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Rodriguez was a member of Hudson County Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association. He was also a member of the Cuban Cultural Center in New York City.
Rodriguez lived in Ramsey with his wife, Karen M. Padreza, and their beloved yellow lab, Sully. The couple first met in 2005, at a tsunami relief event. Ever since that magical date, they did not leave each other’s side. The pair loved gardening, watching movies, dining out and traveling to Inns/Bed & Breakfasts on the east coast.
Rodriguez was a father to his son Gabriel Rodríguez, who graduated from the Newhouse School of Media at Syracuse University with a Bachelor’s degree in television, radio and film. Gabriel lives in New York City, where he is pursuing a career in film production.
Rodriguez was a step-father to his step-daughter, Makeida Hewitt Estupiñan, and her husband, Dany Estupiñan. Makeida is an assistant principal at Gregory Elementary School in West Orange.
Ariel has a sister, Cassandra Rodríguez, who is a retired realtor. She lives in Florida with her partner, Antoinette Okon. Cassandra and Antoinette have a daughter, Jessica.
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