Hackensack Meridian Health announced on Wednesday the death of Joseph Simunovich, former co-chair of the Hackensack Meridian Health board of trustees and the founding chair of the board of governors of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.
“It is with a heavy heart and sincere regret that I share the sad news of the passing of Joe Simunovich, my dear friend and mentor, and a treasure to our entire network and the state of New Jersey,’’ said Robert Garrett, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health, in a statement.
“Joe has played such a vital role throughout our history and leaves a rich and accomplished legacy that has benefitted our team members, patients and our communities,’’ Garrett said.
Simunovich was a well-known figure in New Jersey business, government, health care and politics for more than four decades and served nine New Jersey governors in several key leadership positions.
“Simply put, Joe was a giant,’’ Garrett said. “He was chair of all major boards for the 27 of 28 years he served.’’
Simunovich was also former co-chair of the Hackensack Meridian Health board of trustees when the network was created in 2016.
Simunovich began his service at the Hackensack University Medical Center board of governors in 1991 and held a variety of roles including chair of the Hackensack University Health Network board of trustees, the HackensackUMC board of governors, the HackensackUMC Foundation’s board of trustees and the HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley joint venture board.
He was also the founding chair of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University board of governors, a position he cherished and eagerly served in until his passing.
“Joe was a visionary leader who provided excellent counsel not only to our board and executives but to leaders in government, health care, philanthropy and education throughout New Jersey,’’ said Gordon Litwin, chair of the Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees. “He leaves a remarkable legacy and will be sorely missed.’’
Simunovich received the Hackensack Meridian Health 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award last month at the network’s annual meeting.