Now the community is rallying to help his widow and three children after he died suddenly late Saturday.
Renke, a 49-year-old father of three, from Haworth was a senior at Northern Valley Regional High School when he and three partners bought the Hardenburgh Avenue shop in 1987.
"Because the day of the closing was a school day, he proceeded to ask his lawyer for a note excusing him from school, stating he was at a business closing," according to his bio on the pizzeria's website.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched Sunday for Steve Renke's wife, Moira, and their three children by Joseph Argenziano.
GO TO: Steve Renke Memorial Fund
The father of three from Haworth was a senior at Northern Valley when he and three partners bought the pizzeria shop in 1987.
"Because the day of the closing was a school day, he proceeded to ask his lawyer for a note excusing him from school, stating he was at a business closing," according to his bio on the eatery's website.
Renke began working behind the counter full time after graduation, then made deliveries in his pickup truck before buying out his partners two years later.
Over time, the business evolved from pizza and sandwiches to include a large, varied menu, catering and birthday parties. It was particularly popular with youngsters, many of them students at nearby Northern Valley Demarest.
Renke, whose body was found at the shop two hours after the usual 10:30 p.m. Saturday closing, was also deeply involved in the community and supported a variety of causes, particularly in sports.
A candlelight vigil was held outside the pizzeria Sunday night.
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