East Rutherford, NJ (July 27, 2016) - The memory of Ray Brienza, the dean of harness racing reporters in New Jersey, will be commemorated by the New Jersey chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association with the installation of a print of his Communicators Hall of Fame portrait on Saturday, July 30, 2016 in the press box at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Brienza was a writer and columnist for the Star-Ledger for nearly 40 years, as well as the associate dean emeritus for admissions at New York University's School of Medicine. He passed away on Friday, November 6, 2015. He was 80.
While attending Rutgers-Newark, Brienza began covering harness racing at Newark's Weequahic Park in the 1950s for the now-defunct Newark News. He assumed the harness racing beat at the Star-Ledger in 1972 when the News folded, reporting and handicapping for nearly 40 years.
“Ray loved harness racing and provided daily coverage for the sport for many years in one of the state’s largest newspapers,” said Moira Fanning, president of the NJ USHWA Chapter. “He was a respected and knowledgeable reporter and a press box fixture every night the Meadowlands raced.” Brienza won three John Hervey Awards, as well as the 2004 President's Award from the United States Harness Writers Association, for writing excellence, and his contributions were recognized by that group in 2007, when he was inducted into its Communicators Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY.
Brienza had a concurrent career in higher education, spending 31 years at the NYU School of Medicine as its associate dean of admissions and financial aid before retiring in 2004. NYU established the Raymond J. Brienza Scholarship Fund to support needy students of high academic merit.
Born in Newark, Brienza lived in South Orange, NJ for nearly 50 years. He was married to his wife, Una for 43 years until her passing in 2002. They had six children and six grandchildren.