Morristown, N.J. (January 6, 2015) – The Bergen South Post Office in Jersey City, N.J. was renamed and dedicated in honor of Judge Shirley Hayes Tolentino '65 during a ceremony in December 2014 by Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and Councilwoman Diane Coleman.
Shirley was a trendsetter from early in her academic and professional career. She was determined to become a lawyer while studying at the College of Saint Elizabeth where she earned a degree in Latin. She received her law degree from Seton Hall Law School and earned an advanced degree in criminal law from New York University.
Family, friends and fellow alumnae attended the event with representatives from CSE. Her husband, Ernesto Tolentino, M.D., and her two daughters, Ana-Ramona and Candida, attended the ceremony and gave their thoughts. Candida said of her mother, "She was amazing. She was supportive, loving, encouraging; she was a disciplinarian, she had a lot of wisdom, she was sentimental, she was emotional, she was insightful, and she was fiery."
Her classmate and dearest friend, Carol Borowski Ward '65, said of Shirley, "She was a special human being and I was blessed to call her my friend. She was very funny and very driven, but she never lost sight of who she was and where she came from. It didn't matter who you were, she treated all people equally with respect and dignity."
Sally Cleary, vice president for institutional advancement, stated, "Judge Tolentino stands as a role model, for our current and future students. It is an honor for the College of Saint Elizabeth to have her among our own as an alumna."
Shirley's law career started as an adjudicator for the Veterans' Administration. She moved to the State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety as a deputy attorney general. Tolentino was the first African-American female judge to preside in the municipal court in Jersey City. In 1984, she became the first African-American female Superior Court judge in New Jersey.
She has earned numerous awards and recognitions, including the Woman of the Year by the National Association of Women Judges, the Thurgood Marshall Award from the Hudson County Chapter of the NAACP, and a Jersey Journal Woman of Achievement. Tolentino served on the boards of Jersey City/Hudson County Urban League, Saint Peter's College, the College of Saint Elizabeth, Saint Aloysius Academy, Hudson County Girl Scouts and the Visiting Homemakers of Hudson County.
The post office building was renamed by an act of Congress that was signed by President Barack Obama on July 25, 2014. Shirley Tolentino '65 passed away in 2010.