In May 2009, the St. Mary High School Alumni Department recognized Officer Joseph Rybka, Jr. as one of its distinguished alumni of the year. On September 22, along with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and the Borough of Rutherford, St. Mary High School dedicated an engraved memorial stone at the entrance of our school, his alma mater, to forever recognize Joseph Rybka for his service and his ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. The Borough of Rutherford also remembered Joe’s sacrifice by renaming the corner of Ames Avenue and Chestnut Street in memory of Deputy Rybka.
Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph J. Rybka, Jr., was a member of the St. Mary High School Class of 1964. He was shot and killed in the line of duty on January 7, 1979, by a wounded prisoner he was guarding at Bergen Pines County Hospital. He was 32 years old, and left behind his parents, wife Patricia, and a six-year old son Eric.
Joe had served with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years and was assigned to Courthouse Security.
Joe grew up in Rutherford, and was a gifted baseball played who dreamt of a career as a major league pitcher. He went on to Fairleigh Dickinson University. He met his wife Patricia while working for Lightolier in Passaic and were married at the Church of St. Mary in 1970. Joe joined the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office in 1969. He served as an ombudsman and advocate for inmates and watched over some of the most violent criminals in Bergen County.
St. Mary High School is grateful for the legacy of compassion, respect and service of Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph J. Rybka, Jr. If you are available on September 22, please join us at the intersection of Ames Avenue and Chestnut Street as we honor and remember Joe, who made the ultimate sacrifice.