Beloved entertainer Cozy Morley died this week at the age of 87 from an unknown illness and although he may be gone, his fan base in Wildwood remains strong.
"He passed away and I felt like a friend died, you know?" said Alex Love, a Wildwood resident and Morley fan. Warren Mismer Jr, who once played music with Morley, said, "Wayne Newton is Mr. Las Vegas, well Cozy was definitely Mr. Wildwood."
Love spoke highly of Morley’s character and explained, "You could stop him and say, ‘Hi Coze, how you doing? He would stop and he would talk to you. He was just one of us common people and he lived a good life. God bless him."
Morley was a legend for decades throughout South Jersey and the former owner of Club Avalon, once a popular nightclub in North Wildwood that brought some big names to Wildwood in the 1950s and 1960s.
Love joked, "It was really fun but it was a dump. He didn't spend any money on the place and he said every time he would try to set it on fire there would be a hurricane and it would blow it out! He said he couldn't get rid of the place!"
But he eventually did, and in 1996 Cozy sold his club and Westy's Irish Pub was built in its place.
In 2003 a statue of Cozy was erected outside Westy’s Pub in his memory. The owners of the pub say they promised to keep a part of the club intact as a tribute.
Peg West, an owner of Westy’s Irish Pub, said, "We kept the red step that took you into the club, which was a lot of meaning to Cozy. He would come in here sometimes and do jokes on the stage. He loved what he did."
Other local residents and tourists have been stopping by the landmark to say goodbye. Wismer said, "We were in the area and we said we have to stop by and see the statue of Cozy and take a picture and say goodbye to a great man...and until we meet again." West said, people stop by all the time and blow kisses at him and at the Irish festival they dress him in an Irish costume so he's always changing."
North Wildwood officials say a tribute to Morley is being planned for Mummers Day weekend, the weekend after Labor Day.
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