February 27, 1976 – July 3, 2019
On the morning of July 3, 2019 we suddenly lost our dear friend, Salena Lesniak.
Salena Patricia Lesniak, Carrol, was born on February 27, 1976 in Trenton, New Jersey. She was raised and cherished by her adoptive parents, Albert Carrol and Geraldine (Gerry) A. Carrol. Both predeceased Salena.
Salena graduated from Union Catholic High School in 1994 and Montclair State University with a degree in Political Science. She followed her passion for politics, worked on a number of campaigns and eventually moved to Linden and where she found herself working for Assemblyman and later Senator Joe Suliga.
She became the special assistant to the Union County Manager and then spent fifteen years as the Bureau Chief for the Office of Domestic Preparedness for Union County’s Office of Emergency Management. Salena loved “her guys”, as she called them, and enjoyed every day she got to interact with public safety officials and law enforcement officers from all over the state. Salena’s work directly resulted in the county and state securing millions in grant dollars and making this community a safer place to live.
Salena remained active in politics for the rest of her life, first as a as a Democratic Committeewoman who fiercely advocated for her neighbors in Linden’s 4th Ward, served as a member of New Jersey Commission on Civil Rights, and was a founding member of Democrats 2000 and Garden State Equality. She visited the White House and met with Governors, members of the Legislature, activists, and many local elected officials. All throughout, she was never afraid to speak truth to power, especially among those she considered her friends.
Somewhere along the way she met the love of her life, Senator Raymond J. Lesniak.
From day one, they made each other incredibly happy. No relationship is perfect, so for twenty years they enjoyed breaking rules together, and made some new ones as they went along. Then, suddenly and universally to everyone’s surprise (and likely their own), Salena and Ray got married. In a small ceremony surrounded by their closest family and friends she became Mrs. Lesniak. Their years together were filled with love, honesty, laughter, travel, food, and amazing wine. Their shore home was their sanctuary, passing time with their two dogs Penny and Sammy.
Salena’s great sense of humor, sharp wit, candor and sometimes brutal honesty made her a true Jersey Girl. Accordingly, Salena was Springsteen and Bon Jovi obsessed, loved her summers down the shore, unsweetened ice-teas from Dunkin Donuts, and corrected those who would flippantly refer to Taylor Ham as “pork roll”, whatever that means.
Salena saw every episode of both Criminal Minds and Law & Order, was rightfully a huge fan of Shamar Moore and Ice T, and unapologetically binge watched the Golden Girls. She loved to cook and entertain, owned entirely too many variations of cooking salts, oils, and vinegars (all of which she insisted were necessary and had specific purpose), and had the uncanny ability to craft a feast for the forty surprise guests who arrived at the shore house by boat. There was never a more effortlessly gracious and welcoming host than Salena. She made you feel at home.
For the holidays, Salena made sure the Elizabeth home was perfectly decorated. The two beautiful Christmas trees and decorations throughout set the backdrop for the must attend holiday party of the year. And just as we all cringed at what Ray would wear, we too marveled at how heavenly Salena looked and the glowing warmth of the home she built.
Salena was an only child but was a sister to so many of us. There was no better wife and no fiercer friend. Salena was simply an amazing person. Our hearts are broken.
She is survived by by her husband Raymond, godchildren Catherine Hudak, Madison Wetchkus, and Bodhi da Silva, her cousin Robert Wetchkus and his wife Diana, her aunt Rae Turiello, her uncle Salvatore Imposimato, and many, many friends.
Visitation will be on July 7th from 11:00am to 6:00pm at Krowicki McCracken Funeral Home at 2124 East Saint George Avenue in Linden, NJ 07036.
The funeral mass will be July 8th at the Cathedral Basilica of The Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge Street, Newark, NJ 07104 11:00 am to 12:00 noon.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Salena Lesniak Fund for Social Justice at the Lesniak Institute for American Leadership to help continue fighting for the causes she believed in.Http://www.LesniakInstitute.org/SalenaLesniakFund/
- Visitation Sunday, July 7, 2019
- Funeral Mass Monday, July 8, 2019
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July 9, 2019
A saddened admirer sends condolences.
July 8, 2019
Dear Ray, I am so sadden by your loss of Salena. She was a beautiful person inside and out and her good works will live on forever. May you find peace and comfort in the time you had together and your cherished memories. You have my deepest sympathies.
Rosalie “Rosi” Efthim
July 7, 2019
Salena’s death is a gutpunch. She was a vibrant newlywed, sharp and funny, and someone who gave her labors to improve other people’s lives - for years. So many people are feeling this loss with you, Ray. It feels deeply, wildly unfair. To Ray and the family, much love & respect from our house to you.
July 6, 2019
Salena’s amazing advocacy for social justice will always be remembered by all. On a personal level, Marsha and I will always remember her generosity and amazing energy in planning our wedding at their home in less than 72 hours so that we could have the honor of being one of the first same sex couples to marry in NJ. We will miss you Salena. Condolences to your beloved husband, and our good friend, Raymond.
July 4, 2019
Salena's legacy lives in her accomplishments for humanity. We love you. Adrienne & Save Nosey Now.
July 4, 2019
My deepest sympathies on your very great loss. I am in shock that she is no longer with us. You will be in my prayers.
July 4, 2019
Our deepest sympathies go out to you, Ray.
Michelle & Ted Zangari