Greg Murjani, known to many as “Mr. Rubbish,” died last Friday after a severe heart attack — and his funeral service on Thursday was filled with tears, remembrances and a procession of garbage trucks.
The trucks were a tribute to Murjani’s business, Greg’s Express Rubbish Removal, which he founded in 1993. The company later became “Mr. Rubbish” — complete with Murjani as a grime-fighting superhero, in 2007.
But Murjani, 45, was beloved in circles far wider than sanitation.
Starting his business while living in a van, Murjani went on to become a true Park Slope tycoon. He owned a multitude of buildings in the area, and in 2006, Murjani opened the Brooklyn Burger Bar at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Ninth Street.
He also collaborated with K’Ori and Bar Reis and several other Park Slope businesses. In February, Murjani introduced solar-powered, self-compacting trash cans to Fifth Avenue.
“Those trash cans were a big help. It definitely allowed for keeping the streets cleaner,” said Irene LoRe, director of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District and the owner of Aunt Suzie’s restaurant. “He was just a great guy, and a real asset to the community. I was very saddened about his death.”
Murjani’s funeral was held at St. Saviour’s Catholic Church, where Murjani was not only a congregant, but also had attended school.
Park Slope’s Jews especially loved Murjani as the community’s de-facto “Shabbos goy,” a term for non-Jews who perform certain household chores for Jews who are forbidden to do anything but rest on the Sabbath.
As a result, a second memorial service for Murjani was held at a few blocks from St. Saviour’s at Congregation B’Nai Jacob on Ninth Street, which Murjani helped renovate.
“He was always very giving and very generous,” said Howie, a synagogue member who declined to give his last name. “I remember the look on his face when he donated toys to the nursery school. He was such a happy guy.”
Yankee Ase, the chief financial officer of Mr. Rubbish, saw Murjani more as a brother than as a business partner. “Whenever I needed money for anything, like a wedding, or a bar mitzvah, he just gave it to me,” Ase said. “Any problem that I had, he was there to listen and resolve it.”
In lieu of flowers, Rabbi Shimon Hecht, who led the memorial, asked residents to “do good deeds” in Murjani’s memory.