W. Cary Edwards

July 20, 1944-October 20, 2010

Cary was born and grew up in Bergen County.

He was raised in a single parent household and at a very young age, Cary helped his mother take care of his younger brother and sister as well as working after school everyday in order to make a financial contribution to the household. He graduated from St. Luke’s High School in HoHoKus , spent six months in college in Oklahoma but when his finances ran out, he was forced to return home. He began working at Bamberger’s Department Store, which turned out to be a turning point in his life. Against great odds, he competed for and was awarded a full tuition scholarship from Bamberger’s to attend the New Jersey college of his choice. Cary graduated from Seton Hall University School of Business in 1967 and went on to pursue his law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law also on a full scholarship. He graduated in 1970 and was admitted to the New Jersey bar the same year.


In 1970, Cary married Lynn Cozzolino. They had two daughters and made Oakland, New Jersey their home. He opened his law firm there and in 1975, Cary was elected to the Oakland town council where he served as Council President. In 1977, he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly and would serve three terms in the Assembly and be named Assistant Minority Leader. In 1982, Governor Thomas Kean selected Cary as his Chief Counsel. Kean then named him Attorney General in 1986. He is regarded as one of the greatest Attorney General’s in the state’s history. He initiated a new anti-drug program; instituted a task force to combat organized crime; planned and implemented a virtual overhaul of the Division of Motor Vehicles all while confronting numerous other state problems such as insurance fraud and state land use planning. He ran for Governor, twice losing in Republican primaries.


Since 1997, Cary was a Commissioner and Chairman of the N.J. State Commission on Investigation and was “of counsel” at the law firm of Waters, McPherson, McNeill, P.C. in Secaucus. He was a life member of the Board of Trustees of Monmouth University, Lead Director of the Board of Directors of South Jersey Industries, Chairman of the Board of South Jersey Sanitation,Inc. and a member of the Board of Directors of Integrity Health. He was a charter member of the Board of New Jersey Future, a Visiting Associate and former adjunct professor at the Eagleton Institute of Government, Public Policy and Politics, and a member of numerous other community and volunteer organizations. Cary was the recipient of five Honorary Doctor of Law degrees and over 100 public service awards.