NJ Town Mourns Loss Of 'Teddy Bear With Heart Of Gold' Killed Practically On His Own Property

If you're from Andover, you knew Joey Luchetti.

Joe Luchetti

Joe Luchetti

Photo Credit: Tim Trudgeon

He was the one driving the Joe Veg trucks. Big, silver cross necklace. 

And a personality larger than life.

The lifelong Andover resident, 60, died on Friday, May 31, when his 1963 Pontiac veered off of Yates Avenue, local police said.  

The car went down into a culvert and Luchetti was ejected into a wooded area, just behind his house, where he died.

"On his own property," said friend of 40 years Joe Pepe, of Fredon. "That's how close to home he was."

Joe Veg famously lived on Luchetti Way, a roadway named after his mother, Fannie Luchetti, the township's former mayor. His neighbors were his sister, Nancy, some cousins, and for a while, his brother, Mike, who died of cancer.

Luchetti's death has left the community in shock.

"He was an all around great guy with a heart of gold," the spokesperson for the volunteer fire department said. "He had a wonderful personality and sense of humor. He was a great friend to all who knew him."

Often likened to a teddy bear, Luchetti was an active member of Band of Brothers motorcycle club, known for its charitable ways. 

Unsurprising, given his altruistic tendencies, loved ones say.

"He was very generous with everything," Pepe added. "My wife just said he used to let people bring his kids over to his pool even if he wasn't around. He'd donate his produce to the Andover Fire House and help sell tickets. He lent money to people over the years.

"Just a happy hearted guy."

And he never asked for anything in return, those who knew him said.

"He would always help people if he had produce that was going bad he'd give it to people in need," Tim Trudgeon tells Daily Voice.

"He was a character, life of the party. He was a fun-loving guy and very big hearted."

Jim Dudes became best friends with Luchetti when they met in high school.

"He's a figure larger than life," said Dudes, of Newton, who credits Luchetti with getting him into the produce business. "He'd walk into a room and just light up the room. He had such charisma."

One local on Facebook noted Luchetti was a great guy loved by all — "the best flirt in town."

Dudes recalled a classic Luchetti story. The two were driving down to Florida for spring break. Hours away, Luchetti finally let Dudes drive. 

"He was laying in the back of the truck and I was driving for four hours," Dudes recalled. "All of a sudden I hear a big honk. I turn around, and there's Joe, laying in the back of the truck, beat red, his hands underneath the back of his head, his armpits sunburnt beyond belief."

Needless to say, Luchetti couldn't do much that trip. 

"It was one of the funniest things ever, I could sit here all day telling you about all the stuff we did," Dudes said.

One thing remained constant over the years for Luchetti, Dudes said: Everyone loved him.

"Everywhere we took him, people were just attracted to him. You just knew Joe Veg was in the room, people were just attracted to him, he was like a magnet."

Dudes said he's been getting calls from friends and business parters of Luchetti's in Utah, South Carolina, and all across the tri-state area asking for viewing information. He expects the turnout to be large.

"He was just an overall great guy," Dudes said, "and I'm really going to miss him."

Visitation will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 at the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home.

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