In 2021, when Gov. Phil Murphy announced New Jersey would be renaming nine rest stops on the Garden State Parkway, he said, "This is about putting New Jersey greatness on full display."

The names were taken from inductees to the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

James Gandolfini, Whitney Houston, Jon Bon Jovi, and Frank Sinatra were among the names announced.

Novelist Toni Morrison is presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom by . President Barack Obama in 2012.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Novelist Toni Morrison is presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom by . President Barack Obama in 2012.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Ocean View rest stop was supposed to be named after acclaimed African American author, novelist, and Princeton University Professor Toni Morrison. However, Morrison's estate never granted permission to use her name, so an alternate was chosen: Actor Bruce Willis.

Cape May County Commissioners are now asking the state to reconsider.

"What has Bruce Willis ever done for Cape May County," Board of Commissioners Director Len Desiderio asks.

attachment-“What has Bruce Willis ever done for Cape May County”

Why was Bruce Willis Chosen?

Bruce Willis was not born in New Jersey, but his family settled in Salem County where he attended Penns Grove High School in Carneys Point.

After graduating in 1973, Willis studied acting at Montclair State University.

He also worked a number of jobs in South Jersey, including as a security guard at the Salem Nuclear Power plant and delivering furniture in Cape May County.

After achieving success on the 80's sitcom Moonlighting, he rocketed to stardom in the 1990s as the star of the "Die Hard" movies.

Willis did not, however, return much to New Jersey nor was he known for any charity works in the region.

In 2019, he threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game wearing the home team jersey.

Bruce Willis
Actor Bruce Willis throws out a first pitch before a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Willis retired from acting after being diagnosed with the neurodegenerative frontotemporal dementia.

Who else could the rest stop be named for?

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority could revisit getting permission from Toni Morrison's estate and stick with the original plan.

County Commissioners approved a resolution asking the state "to strongly consider naming of the Ocean View Service Plaza after a local veteran or community leader from Cape May County."

The Press of Atlantic City reports that Director Desiderio seemed to favor naming the rest stop after local Pastor Tom Dawson.

Dawson runs the SOAR Church and was recently awarded the FBI's Community Leadership Award.

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Garden State Parkway Rest Stops

🚗 Montvale: James Gandolfini Service Area
🚗 Brookdale North: Larry Doby Service Area
🚗 Brookdale South: Connie Chung Service Area
🚗 Vauxhall: Whitney Houston Service Area
🚗 Cheesequake: Jon Bon Jovi Service Area
🚗 Monmouth: Judy Blume Service Area
🚗 Forked River: Celia Cruz Service Area
🚗 Atlantic City: Frank Sinatra Service Area
🚗 Ocean View: Bruce Willis Service Area?

Parkway stops getting renamed after these NJ greats

Some of New Jersey's most iconic figures are getting their names on something other than awards or gold records: Garden State Parkway rest stops.

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A look back at the NJ Garden State Parkway token

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