By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
bartesaghi@montclairlocal.news

Craig Dickson knew Edward Tierney — “Buddy,” to his close friends — for 50 years. They’d both grown up in Upper Montclair, next to Mountainside Park. When Dickson thinks about Tierney, many memories come to mind — too many to count, he said.

Dickson said he remembered how he met Tierney when they both were about 5 years old. He remembered Tierney as a tougher, younger kid.

“He wanted to get in a fight with me. He wanted to be the bully of the park,” Dickson said. “I said, ‘Why do you want to beat me up? I didn’t do anything to you.’ And we became best friends pretty much ever since.”

From that point on, Dickson said, he would meet with Tierney at the park. They’d play basketball, and hang out. Dickson met the other Tierney siblings — the family owns Tierney's Tavern on Valley Road — and, he said, they became family. 

Tierney died in his home on March 16, at the age of 54.

Tierney worked in real estate with Coldwell Banker, according to his obituary. He’d worked in the kitchen of the tavern he co-owned, where he made the “Buddy Burger” — highlighted on several regional lists of the best burgers in the state (and a reason for a stop at Tierney’s on NJ.com’s 2021 list of the 35 best Irish pubs in New Jersey).

Dickson thinks often about a trip to Europe he and Tierney made after Dickson graduated from college. That was Tierney’s favorite memory, too, his friend said.

“I remember going to Tierney’s and Buddy was cooking in the kitchen. I said, ‘Hey, Buddy, how would you like to go to Europe with me for five weeks?’ And he said ‘Sure, I’d love to.’ So, we toured Europe on a [Eurail] pass and slept in cheap hostels and hotels,” Dickson said. “And we had the greatest trip of my life.” 

Bob Ward, another of Tierney’s best friends, said he was loved by everyone. Tierney was Ward’s best man at his wedding, and he said his mother called Tierney her “12th child” (which, Ward said, was a little odd since he was the 11th child, and Tierney was six months older than him). 

Ward said Tierney had a big and generous heart. He said Tierney could read people, and he knew what to say to make them feel better. 

“[Tierney] had a Ph.D. in life that ventured some into psychology, some into sociology and even philosophy. Few conversations with Buddy were simple. Even the simple ones,” Ward said. “He always had a twinkle in his eye and a grin that spoke without words, ‘I know you know what I mean.’” 

Ward said his family went regularly to the shore, and Tierney went with them frequently. He said one memory stands out — when one of Ward’s shore friends came around and asked him, ‘Have you met that guy, Buddy? He’s awesome.’

“That was Buddy,” Ward said. “I heard from one of those friends on Facebook this week after sharing the news about Buddy. Even after 35 years of not seeing him, he wrote, ‘A guy you would never forget.’”

Ward said one of the words to describe Tierney was “joyful.” He said Tierney was always smiling, and often laughing. 

“He wasn’t just laughing at the world. He connected with the people in his life, and it was important to him that people felt joy,” Ward said. 

Dickson said that for him, Tierney was a loyal friend. 

“I’d be like, ‘Buddy, I gotta sit in the DMV for four hours. You wanna go?’ and he said ‘Sure,’” Dickson said. “He was always there willing to go with me to Europe, the DMV or any other place. And always made me laugh.” 

Ward said the community will remember Tierney as a kind soul. He said he thinks  Tierney might have wanted the community to remember him for his spirituality. 

“God, Jesus, the church, these were pillars of who Buddy was,” Ward said. “Buddy wanted to become a priest at one point in his life, but his ministry took a different path. Yet the church remained core to who he was. When we spoke last weekend, the main thing he wanted me to know was that he was ready to see his Mom, Dad and his brother, Jimmy, in heaven.” 

Tierney, born Aug. 4, 1967, attended St. Cassian church and school, and was a 1986 graduate of Montclair High School, according to his obituary. He’d attended Montclair State College as well.

His obituary referenced the Edward R. Tierney Association, which it said “stands for charity, civics and sports”; Montclair Local has reached out to family members for more information on the group. Tierney had also been a member of The Montclair Knights of Columbus Council No. 1277, according to his obituary.

It said he enjoyed bowling at the Commonwealth Club in Upper Montclair, and playing golf with the Montclair Lions Club, of which he was president from 2004 to 2005. He looked forward to an annual fishing trip with his cousins as well, the obituary said. 

And it said he enjoyed watching his favorite sports teams — Notre Dame, the Giants, the New Jersey Devils, the Brooklyn Nets and the Yankees. 

“God first, family second. Buddy was very generous, funny and always had a smile for you,” his family wrote in the obituary. “He loved people and people loved him."

Tierney was predeceased by his brother, James “Jim” Tierney, who died on July 30 last year. He was additionally predeceased by his parents, Edward "Ned" and Gertrude "Terry" (Brennan) Tierney, according to his obituary. 

He is survived by his siblings, Bill Tierney and wife Jacqueline of Montclair; Mary Ellen Onofrio and husband David of Bristol, Connecticut; Cathy Tierney, John Tierney and Michael Tierney of Montclair, and many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends, according to the obituary

There will be a celebration of his life on Monday, March 28, at Immaculate Conception Church, Montclair. 

The celebration will begin with a wake from 10 a.m. until noon, followed by a Mass at 12:30 and burial at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Upper Montclair. In lieu of flowers, his family is asking for donations to Lamp for Haiti at PO Box 187, Montclair, NJ 07042, or lampforhaiti.org. The nonprofit, based in Montclair, provides medical care such as ultrasounds, digital x-rays and nutrition programs as well as humanitarian assistance in Haiti.

“My family and the Tierneys shared a common coming-of-age epoch in the '70s and '80s in Montclair,” James Morgan, founder of Lamp for Haiti, told Montclair Local via email. “Over the past decade, especially, when I would run into Buddy, either after 7:30 a.m. Mass on Sundays or at Tierney’s Tavern (sometimes twice on the same day), without fail he would ask about Haiti, and he’d assure me that he was praying for our work there. What a great tribute to Buddy's quiet, giving spirit.” 

Dickson said he hopes the community remembers Tierney as a funny and happy person. He said he had many friends through the tavern, always willing to sit down with him, have a beer and tell a joke or two. 

“I mean, he was the guy you wanted to sit down with. Everybody did,” Dickson said. “I’m honored to be able to call him my best friend because everybody loved him. And he is going to be missed by many, many people.”