The marquee on the Fair Haven firehouse is once again bearing some sad news.
Yet another member of the deep-rooted fire department kin has passed. Longtime Fair Havenites know the borough-anchored family. They knew the family’s departed patriarch and fondly remember his tall stature topped by a grand zest for life and love of all things family and community — it was all synonymous for the man people knew as Chum Chandler.
Chum, a lifelong Fair Haven resident and 65-year member of its fire company, died at 89 on March 8, leaving behind a compassionate life lived to the fullest, his family said in his obituary.
There will be a service/visitation for Chum Chandler on Friday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St., Red Bank. There will be a fire department tribute at 7:30.
And on Saturday there will be a celebration, as his family put it in his obituary, of his life at the Fair Haven firehouse, on River Road, from 1 to 5 p.m.
Warren “Chum” Chandler will be buried in the Brig. Gen. Wm. C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Arneytown, NJ.
Chum Chandler served his country proudly during WWII in the US Navy, South Pacific.
The owner of Chandler Septic Tank Service, Chum was a 65-year member of the Fair Haven Fire Department.
He loved to hunt, fish and crab and was a founding member of The Sea Bright Rod and Gun Club. He loved all sports and participated in the Rumson Veterans Football, the Willow Brook Golf Club, and numerous baseball teams and bowling leagues.
Chum as a loyal fan of the N.Y. Mets and Giants. He “lived a full life whose fun-loving personality will live on forever!”
Chum was predeceased by his wife Elizabeth “Betty” (Long).
He is survived by: sons Warren (Stephanie), George (Judi), Richard (Lisa), Peter (Natasha); daughters Elizabeth (Dan), Carol (Mike), Deborah (Dan); 15 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren; and special friend, Joan Fowler.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Fair Haven Fire Department, 635 River Rd., Fair Haven, NJ 07704.
Many have good memories of Chum Chandler. Please share your memories with us as we prepare a full memorial tribute. Email anything you’d like to share to email@example.com
Well, it’s not over for them or us. These people, in one way or another, contributed to life in the area and were part of our lives.
We honor them with a photo and a token of remembrance.
Take the journey with us, one more time …
Ian Carpenter, 44, RFH Class of 1988, soccer player, drummer, advocate for ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease research, Feb. 22, 2014
Ian, an RFH grad who had relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, died on Feb. 22, a victim of ALS.
Known as a craftsman and carpenter, Ian, who lived most of his life in Fair Haven, built his own home and was known as a family man who loved coaching his son in soccer and baseball. He left behind a wife, Lindsay, son Winston and daughters Clara and Mary.
Ian, himself, was a varsity soccer player at RFH and a “talented drummer,” said his sister, Angela.
“So many of our high school friends came together for them in the end … it meant the world to him to have his hometown family help so much,” she said in an email.
Rest in peace, Ian Carpenter.
Jack Croft, 84, 64-year Fair Haven resident, 35-year Fair Haven Fire Department member, Sept. 7, 2014
This is a special one for this editor, in the interest of full disclosure.
Jack Croft has been sending me notes of appreciation for my writing dating back to roughly the year 2000 — probably earlier.
A family friend and neighbor, he always made a point of reading my stories and commenting privately via a personal, hand-written note and/or email.
As a journalist who is, as all of us are, accustomed to many queries critiques, and sometimes selfish pleas for one-sided agenda promotion, it was always such a pleasure to wake up to an email or note in the mail from Jack concerning any current issue about which I happened to be writing.
He always ended his notes reminding me that my parents would be proud. Now, that’s the kind of pay-it-forward, random contribution to the community that trumps a high-ticket social event any day. His effect in this and many other small gestures, was enduring and selfless.
A modest, true gentleman, who was often seen walking about town hand-in-hand with wife Jane, it was always not only heartwarming, but encouraging to read his opinion.
He did not gush. He was not ever after a special favor. He just felt it his duty to let a female journalist he knew as a child and neighbor that he appreciated her work. He was always constructive and supportive. And, yes, the gesture was so greatly appreciated.
It meant more than I can say, actually. We, in this thankless business, cover the news because we feel it’s our responsibility. And it is. Though, sometimes, people can be heavily imbalanced in opinion — merciless. He, thankfully, felt it was his responsibility to appreciate the work with a healthy balance. And that went both ways.
Thank you, Jack Croft, for the many moments you took out of your day to show gratitude and brighten this editor’s day. Now it’s our turn.
We so vividly remember you. You and your undying love for your wife, Jane, always affected not only this editor, but all who saw you about town.
Your sincerity, love of community and family will not be forgotten. Oh, and the notes have been saved. One is still on the fridge.
Rest in peace, Jack Croft.
Keith D. Smith, 41, of Rumson, manager of Val’s Tavern in Rumson, May 6, 2014
Kieth, a longtime Rumson resident, died on May 6.
Many had grown accustomed to his face at Val’s. He is missed.
Ida Twist, 90, longtime Fair Havenite and Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair volunteer, Jan. 1, 2014
All you had to do was spend any time at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair and you’d recognize Ida.
For the past couple of decades she was at the Grab Bag Booth as what people have come to know as one of the “balloon ladies,” cheerfully getting those balloons to kids and putting smiles on their faces with some homestyle chatting.
If you didn’t see Ida at the fair, then you probably saw her at an event or parade — and she really loved parades — or with the Fair Haven Seniors group. She also helped her grandson, Charlie, start his lawn business.
She loved and was dedicated to community and family.
She looked like “That Girl,” Marlo Thomas, in her younger years — wide-eyed, sage grin with shiny black hair in a “flip” with bangs. And she had the bright disposition to go with the persona.
She was good friends with this editor’s mom and we spent much family time together. There was always a belly-ache of a laugh somewhere in there through the years.
In that time, her contagious laughter infected anyone whose path she crossed. Mom to sons John, Jim and Tom, and many grandchildren, she embodied sincerity and love of life and community. Her legacy is evident in her children.
Mary just had a way about her, as the Billy Joel song goes. She was always approachable, always smiling. Her laugh and smile are things that will always be remembered by those whose lives she touched.
Rest in peace, Mary Kirman.
Milton Edelman, 93, former Fair Havenite and Zoning Board member, April 27, 2014
Milton was known as an interesting, witty longtime Fair Havenite who relocated to League City, Texas, and passed away at 93 on April 27, 2014.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Milton Edelman and family moved to Fair Haven in 1962. There, the family settled in and he served on the Zoning Board for quite a few years. He was known to offer many anecdotes and sage advice, according to an obituary written by his son Marc.
He was a lawyer with the firm Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman and Dicker, which was recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the top 50 firms nationwide. He retired from the firm in 1998.
After relocating to two homes in Vermont and Texas, Milton continued to serve on the local zoning board in Vermont.
Before he died, Milton worked with son Marc at an information technology services firm in Texas — PC and Cable.
He leaves behind his children, Eric, Marc and Alexandra, all RFH grads, and his wife, Frederica.
Rest in peace, Milton.
Dr. Peter Sheehan, 60, renowned diabetes doctor, son of Dr. George Sheehan, May 2014
A Rumson native, Peter Sheehan was one of 12 of Dr. George Sheehan’s children. Dr. George Sheehan, who is deceased, was and is still known as a well-recognized author and runner who raised his family in Rumson.
Peter did groundbreaking work in the study and treatment of diabetes in his lifetime.
Oh, Mrs. Dexter. She was a beautiful woman, with a sharp edge, who died at 84 on Jan 10, 2014.
Mrs. Dexter, a mom of four, was a Catherine Gibbs Secretarial School graduate who married Howard Dexter in 1950.
After having served as a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) aide for a stint in the 1970s, she retired from AT&T in 2000.
Mrs. Dexter was known to many an RFH student as a troubadour of monitoring many hallway hijinks and incidents of library lunacy spearheaded by many good, yet antsy and mischievous students.
Thanks for rolling with us and doling out those myriad reprimands and fun times at RFH, Mrs. Dexter.
Rest in peace.
Karen Harrington Bovenzi, 54, 1978 RFH grad, formerly of Rumson, June 26, 2014
Karen passed away at Newark Beth Israel Hospital after a heart transplant.
Comments flooded the RFH Reunion Facebook page upon Karen’s death. “It’s with great sadness that I tell you that Karen Harrington Bovenzi passed away this afternoon after a very long and courageous battle with a heart transplant and many side effects and issues,” said her good friend Rita Marass Kellegher.
Rest in peace, Karen.
Henry Leon “Sike” Reevey, 85, of Fair Haven, Oct. 20, 2014
Born in Fair Haven in 1929, Henry, known as Sike, was a staple in Fair Haven life.
The senior Reevey is one of many in town who contributed to the town’s homegrown culture.
There are many Reeveys out there to this day. Sike, himself, was born on Sept. 24, 1929, and was a U.S. Army vet of the Korean War, according to his obituary on legacy.com.
“As a member of the Fair Haven Reevey’s (stet), I would like to say Thank You for all the kind words extended to us in the passing of my Uncle Sike. Please keep us in your hearts and prayers especially Aunt Sonia and all his children. He loved all deeply and equally,” his relative said on the Fair Haven Facebook page.
He was, sadly, predeceased by his son Aaron, a 1978 RFH graduate, as well as his parents, Shockely and Margaret Ensley Reevey; and brothers and sisters, James, Dorothy, Stanley, Theodore, Rose Jackson, Lawrence and Frank Reevey.
He is survived by: his wife, Sonia; three children, Henry, Jr., of Freehold, Dwayne, Sr., of Fair Haven, and Stephanie Hurt, of Lawrenceville, GA; one sister, Shirley, of Tinton Falls; 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Sike was known to emanate a true love of his hometown community and everyone in his family has been known to carry on his legacy of loyalty to and love of Fair Haven.
Rest in peace, Mr. Sike Reevey.
Arlene Albano, 62, former RFH Math teacher, Aug. 22, 2014
Arlene Albano, who died of breast cancer, was a well-liked Math teacher and advisor of the RFH Twirling Squad. She had many fans.
A graduate of Shore Regional High School and Montclair State College, she, after her teaching career at RFH, became a software developer of nuclear power plant simulation at Electronics Associates, Inc. (EAI), West Long Branch.
This editor had Arlene Albano for Math and found her to be a great teacher with a lot of patience and a pleasant personality.
Carol Nagle Skinner, an RFH twirler, said on the RFH Class of ’78 Facebook page: “Some of her twirlers were able to see her last week to say goodbye. She fought cancer for way too long but never complained. I don’t know how she put up with us in high school! She is finally at Peace.”
Rest in peace, Miss Albano.
Madeline Robbins, 92, longtime Fair Haven resident, longtime member of the Fair Haven Fire Department’s Ladies’ Auxiliary, Oct. 6, 2014
Madeline Robbins was known as a fun-loving woman with a glowing smile and great heart for her community — Fair Haven.
She served on the Fair Haven Election Board and as Fair Haven’s assistant borough clerk.
As daughter Kathy recalls, she “was always ironing the alter linens for Church of the Nativity.”
This editor remembers Madeline as a family friend with whom Fair Haven families went camping.
She, her husband Al, kids and other families made an annual trek to Pennsylvania Dutch country to camp for many an outing on Memorial Day in the 1970s.
She was always laughing, singing a verse or two of “This Land is Your Land” and joking around the campfire.
Anyone would recognize that bright smile anywhere. Thanks for all the fun, sincere and spirited memories.
Rest in peace, Madeline.
Joseph Lincoln Davidson III, 63, ex-chief of Rumson Fire Department, February of 2014
Born in Reading, PA, Joseph was a lifetime member and ex-chief of the Rumson Fire Department and past president and member of Rumson First Aid.
An avid boater, he was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and loved fishing.
He leaves behind his wife, Regina, of 42 years, sons Christopher and Steven, and daughter Jennifer and grandchildren.
Thank you for your service. Rest in peace, Joseph.
Marylyn J. Scott, former Fair Haven teacher, July 20, 2014
Marylyn Scott was an elementary school teacher in Fair Haven for decades, from the early 1960s to 1990, when she retired.
Many remember Marylyn for her kind nature and conscientiousness as an educator.
Her obituary, spearheaded by family, asked that she be remembered as not only a teacher, but a mother, friend and neighbor. She was all of those things.
Thank you for your dedication to the children of Fair Haven.
Rest in peace, Marylyn.
John Edward Kondrup, 93, longtime Rumson resident, former borough mechanic, U.S. Army World War II vet, driver for Rumson First Aid, member of Oceanic Hook & Ladder Co. #1, Sept. 18, 2014
Kondrup was known to always have a smile on his face and a great deal of pride in his vegetable garden.
Many have said that he was known to also ride his bicycle around town for many years, until he reached his 90s.
Rest in peace, John.
Photos/courtesy of families and Thompson Memorial and Days funeral homes.
It seemed to happen an awful lot in 2014 — the death of people whose faces and lives we’ve grown accustomed to being woven into the fabric of Rumson-Fair Haven area life.
There were times it seemed that the fine people manning the Fair Haven Firehouse marquee couldn’t even keep up. It’s the place in the area where the news of loss is often spread.
In 2014 it seemed that there were all too frequent tiny gasps and self-mutterings of “Oh, no!” as a ride by the firehouse revealed yet another passing. It all seemed to echo as yet another familiar face flashed and a memory was evoked.
We said it in the memorial tribute to Mimi Hughes. We, at Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect, are dedicated to remembering those who have passed.
Why? Because, as the line in the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel put it, “As long as one person on Earth remembers you, it’s not over.”
Well, it’s not over for them or us. These people, in one way or another, contributed to life in the area and were part of our lives.
We honor them with a photo and a token of remembrance.
Take the journey with us …
George Giffin, 85, longtime RFH science teacher and dance instructor extraordinaire, May 15
This true area icon could get Attila the Hun to crack a smile.
The man, known for his true appreciation of dance, would pretty much break into a routine wherever he was.
This editor ran into him a couple of times in the recent past — at the Fair Haven centennial and Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven.
He never forgot a face, either. He knew who I was from 30-something years past in high school when he taught me ballroom dance and I was abysmal.
I asked him then what advice he had for the many teens he taught to dance. He told me he still made appearances at RFH grads’ and their kids’ weddings to get them through the festivities with his special blend of dance instruction.
His motto, he said at the time: “When you get that beat, you gotta move your feet.”
Keep dancing, Mr. Giffin, and rest in peace when and if you take a break.
Pat Topfer, 77, Fair Haven, Oct. 26
Pat, also known in the past as Mrs. Cook, was a 52-year resident of Fair Haven and an 50-year Fair Haven Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary member.
She always had a great smile and zest for life. Her daughters, all RFH grads, inherited her beautiful face and smile.
She shared many a crumb cake and cup of coffee with this editor’s mom. Many years past my teens, she saw me at Marine Park in Red Bank. I was pregnant with my son. She gushed with joy and support and insisted upon snapping a picture of my friend and me. She made sure she got it to me. I still have it — that any many good memories of her friendly demeanor and smile.
Last I saw Pat, she was at the Fair Haven centennial celebration, gussied up in festive red, white and blue sparkles for the occasion.
She was more than happy to pose for my photo of her as a longtime, proud Fair Havenite.
Rest in Peace, Pat.
Lois Brett, formerly of Fair Haven, longtime teacher, Oct. 29
Lois Brett was a teacher in the Fair Haven School District for many years.
The daughter of Lester and Esther England, she graduated from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School. “She refused to limit her teaching to the classroom, but rather passed on her knowledge, wisdom, and joy of life, learning, love, and knitting to all those she knew however briefly,” according to her obituary.
Mrs. Brett was a friend of my mom’s. She was known for her kind nature and knack for making those Christmas cookies. There was nary a Christmas in our house without some of Lois Brett’s cookies.
Rest in peace, Lois Brett.
Mary Welling Hunnewell, 54, RFH graduate, Class of 1978, Oct. 17
Mary was a gymnast, equestrian, skier, and just all-around nice girl.
She grew up in Fair Haven and graduated from RFH. She had a soft voice, tiny stature and gentle demeanor.
As high school friend Devon Martin put it, “We shared many great times between Gillespie and DeNormandie…on my dad’s little sunfish…having to be rescued! Through middle school and high school. Gymnastics. She was a sweet, kind, generous and beautiful person. I am glad to have been her friend. She will truly be missed on this earth.”
Rest in peace, Mary.
Nina DeSesa, 88, formerly of Fair Haven, Nov. 23
Nina and her husband Michael raised their family, children Blaise and Stephanie, in Fair Haven.
Both were Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduates. Stephanie died unexpectedly in 2011 at 50. In the interest of full disclosure, she was this editor’s best friend.
Nina, known lovingly as “the bull” to friends, was a force to be reckoned with when it came to her family and convictions. She was also pretty darn funny and astute.
She loved the opera, her husband and children more than anything in life.
Many saw Nina as quite a stern character, nonetheless fabulous cook, with a mission to play Bridge and MaJong. But, she was much more than that.
She had a great heart. This is my chance to say thank you to a woman who, though many times criticized me mercilessly, was always there for her daughter and me — front and center at both my parents’ funerals.
I have a few things to say to Nina:
Thank you for that artichoke pie, the best baby shower ever, the beautiful blanket you knitted for Cole, all the fabulous dinners and trips into the city to cool out-of-the-way restaurants, the scoldings, that Gilbert O’Sullivan sweater you knitted for Steph (that we fought over).
And, most of all, thank you, Nina, for moving to Fair Haven in 1967 and bringing Steph into my life. I hope you are together again. Oh, and … Step away from the stuffed stork!
Rest in peace, Nina DeSesa.
Silvio Fabbri, 59, owner of Fair Haven’s Umberto’s and friend to many, Nov. 26
Fabbri died very suddenly; and his death saddened a community very accustomed to hearing his anecdotes and knowing that he knew who they were, what was going on in their lives and what they liked to eat.
It could be months that Silvio didn’t see you, yet he’d remember everything about you when you walked in the door.
I got yelled at for not coming around enough, but he remembered my favorite special sub.
Rest in peace, Silvio, and “hanga loose.”
Fair Haven Councilman Jerome Koch, 63, Nov. 30
Jerome Koch died as the result of a tragic Nov. 29 bicycle accident on River Road in Fair Haven.
Koch was known for his sardonic wit and keen sense of humor while sitting on the dais of the Fair Haven Borough Council for nine years.
On Nov. 29, the councilman took what was described by Mayor Ben Lucarelli as his characteristic bike ride around town. The mayor, an avid cyclist, was out for a ride that day as well. He said that when he had passed Koch, he was doing his customary scouting for errant garbage and tidying up.
Not much longer after that, the councilman was hit by a car not too far from his home on River Road and flown to Jersey Shore Medical Center Trauma Unit. He remained in the hospital’s intensive care unit and, sadly, died the next day.
Rest in peace, Councilman Koch.
Mimi Hughes, 83, Rumson resident and 26-year RFH English teacher
Mimi Hughes, who taught English at RFH for 26 years and acted and sang in many a production in the area, died on Dec. 20 surrounded by her loving family.
This is a tough one for this editor. Mrs. Hughes and her family were like family.
“As long as there’s one person on Earth who remembers you, it isn’t over …”
It’s a line from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel that actor Mandy Patinkin recently recited on 60 Minutes to describehis faithful nightly ritual. Every single night, he remembers those in his life who have passed by naming them and reflecting on something memorable about them.
I believe, like Patinkin, that there’s an awful lot of truth to the words from the play. And I believe that we all need to pay attention to people who pass through our lives for one reason or another, perhaps altering our paths, and remember. Just remember.
All too often I hear from people, “I don’t remember.” Why not? If you care to remember, you will remember.
I care to remember. And I think that 26-year RFH English teacher, singer and actress, wife, mom and grandmother Mimi Hughes cared to remember. I think that, because when you remember people who passed through your life and passed the smallest to the most monumental elements of life onto you, you pass those things onto other people … and the cycle goes on.
You can see that she did this with her own family as well as with the many whose lives she touched in her own life’s journey.
I suppose I just can’t think of a more appropriate way to remember Mimi Hughes than through such words spoken in a musical, of all things. Words and music are much of what she was all about — what she left to me and many others.
And I suppose that she probably had no idea how she affected such a pivotal point in my life and likely many others’ in a similar way. That’s probably because being kind and generous of heart and talent just came so naturally to her — and with such grace.
But, I remember. She is remembered, from that opening act to curtain call, and then some.
Act I …
I remember that first day at RFH, heading to Mrs. Hughes’ English class. I remember seeing this teacher carrying a load of books down the hall and wondering if that was her — my teacher. You could tell that pile was pretty heavy, but she just seemed to float right through the hall with it.
I actually don’t know why I remember this one thing, but I do — the books were always carried in front of her, not slung on the hip or in a bag. Though, she did have a bag.
I remember thinking what a towering presence she had and that she seemed to exude an extraordinary elegance. Then this lady rounded the corner of the classroom to which I was assigned. Yes, she was my teacher. And I thought she was just so cool.
As she unloaded the books on her desk, I also remember thinking that she was just so beautiful and intelligent looking — piercing, focused, but friendly blue eyes; and thick, dark hair with flecks of grey. Sometimes her readers were perched on the tip of her nose, always with the chain attached. And I’m pretty sure she was wearing a strand of pearls around her neck.
She had the looks of a classic movie actress with that intellectual writer’s bent.
She introduced herself and very neatly scrolled her name on the chalkboard. I can still hear her voice — eloquent, with a delicate, deliberately cultured cadence.
From that point on, Mimi Hughes had become a part of my life.
I always wanted to do well in her class, because she was just so kind and encouraging. I never wanted to disappoint her. That sort of unwaveringly kind encouragement blended with the most succinct, somehow soothing, honesty was her special blend of motivation for success. She never seemed to discourage. I remember that.
I remember even taking my English homework to rehearsals for a, nonetheless, community theater production of Carousel.
I just had to impress her with my diligence, non-judgmental as she was.
Act II …
It wasn’t long after that when I discovered that Mrs. Hughes and her family were involved in theater, too. I was doing shows at The Barn Theater and helping out with ushering and running the concession stand; and there they were.
I remember hearing her soprano voice in many a show. OK, so I don’t remember exactly which ones. But I do remember that voice and seeing her on that strange stage — more like bleachers surrounding a bare spot with lights and scenery, which was fabulous.
By the time I was a junior in high school the Hugheses and I were friends. We had done shows together. We were a theater family of sorts.
And that, in an uncanny way, carried onto the stage.
Mark played my husband, the mayor, in Bye Bye Birdie. Poor guy. All I did was scream and faint and he repeatedly scooped me up, bellowing, in his very old-sounding high school voice, “Edna!”
We were all in Fiddler on the Roof together. Nan, with her superb singing talent, played my daughter. Paul was Perchik. Mark was in the chorus, and, I think, Patrick was probably doing a show at The Barn. But that was a stage that was just right down the street. He was the youngest and not yet in high school then.
I was referred to as “big sis” and I was thrilled with the inclusion in the Hughes family.
And there were many more moments on and off stage.
Mimi Hughes and her family continued to figure quite prominently in what, to me, was a very special, sentimental senior year at RFH.
And I remember. Vividly.
We hung out together, popped over to the Hughes house across the street in between rehearsals, where Mimi always welcomed us. We sang around the piano at cast parties and, yes, thought we had hit some criminal pinnacle as we painted that infamous bridge senior year.
There was even one trek, in particular, that I recall with particular fondness, into New York City. Mrs. Hughes drove and we all sang in the back of their Mercedes station wagon. We were on a jaunt to dinner at Asti, that true showfolk restaurant where opera was sung throughout the meal and diners were sometimes invited to join in.
They grabbed Nan from the table, dressed her in some sort of hooded shroud and she appeared minutes later as part of a makeshift chorus.
Oh, and the ride home … Yes, the singing continued, but so did that game of transposing license initials into some sort of title, name or bizarre sentence.
I remember seeing Mrs. Hughes’ hair and grasp on the wheel from the back seat as she gently reminded us and Mr. Hughes, who was also playing, to keep it all wholesome.
Nan even came to see me at college when she was getting set to graduate from RFH.
The connection with the Hughes family has remained. I remember; and am grateful. Just last year I met up with Paul, whose son was in an RFH show, and Patrick.
There were so many moments. So many that made milestones in my life much more meaningful because of my connection to Mimi Hughes and her family.
I do remember. I remember that by the time I graduated from high school, I had decided that I wanted to not only act, but write as well.
I thought it was a pretty cool combination, and Mrs. Hughes, to me, embodied the idea that I could do both in one way or another and be all that much more enriched to pay forward a love of family, theater and life and write about all of it and more.
Mimi Hughes’ memory, like the memory of so many we should remember, is a lesson.
That lesson is echoed in the song Try to Remember from the Fantasticks.
“Try to remember … and if you remember, then follow …”
Rest in peace, Mrs. Hughes. Thank you for bringing your family into my life and enriching it all the more. Though I think your son Paul remembers my mom more for having “tremendous milk” from the Acme (just as important, as it made my mom laugh for years), you are remembered. Your show isn’t over.
It was 14 years ago that I had the pleasure of being introduced to Craig Bahrs, a young narcotics police officer in Middletown who had just been paired with the department’s newest addition, K-9 Officer Jack, a blonde German shepherd with brown patches.
Chief John Pollinger brought me out to Bahrs’ K-9 vehicle that was just pulling up. I looked up on that sunny day and saw a bright smile emanating from the driver’s seat and a beautiful dog with the same demeanor. I got a respectful handshake and a smile from the young officer and a couple of generous licks and a paw from Jack.
In fact, the chief joked that Jack had such a friendly disposition, they were more afraid he’d lick suspects to death than attack — lest we forget that the two were quite serious about their jobs and quite good at them.
I conducted the interview and then we spent some time chatting, playing with Jack and then trying to get him to pose his handsome self for photos, each of us dangling treats and toys above him so that he’d perk up his ears and look his best.
It was the kind of assignment that makes a reporter’s day — and ends up making them love their career.
It didn’t take long to see that both the officer and his K-9 partner were not only among the finest of the boys in blue, but that this was the start of lasting, good a reporter-police relationship.
And it was. I was at Jack’s swearing-in. Yes, it was part of my job, but yet another good part.
And in covering Middletown for many years, I did many a story on Jack and Craig’s drug busts. Through the years, I was always happy to run into the two when I had to stop at the police station or town hall for one thing or another.
I came to know Craig better over the years as a reporter. He was a true gentleman and the kind of police officer anyone, much less a reporter, would hope to be the one answering their calls for help.
As often happens when reporters and officers are reassigned, you fall out of touch at times.
After a few years of no longer being assigned to covering Middletown and moving to other newspapers, I ended up being hired as editor of the Middletown Patch.
As one of my first responsibilities, I made the usual trek back to the police station to let everyone know I was back and where they could find me if there was news.
I went into the chief’s office to say hello to the longtime secretary there and another officer I had come to know well and respect over the years.
His office was next to Craig’s, which was empty that day. The door was open and I could see that story I had done all those years ago hanging on the wall. Not realizing how much time had passed, I asked how K-9 Jack was.
That was when I heard news that I didn’t want to hear on this happy reunion day. Jack had passed away and Craig was out of the office ill and battling cancer.
I saw Craig again a few times. He looked great and said he was feeling good. His smile never changed. You could always see and recognize it from a mile away. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was the last time I saw that smile. It was peering out from under his dress uniform hat, warming a sullen occasion with sincerity.
That smile and that one story 14 years ago had made my day. And, since then, the memory of that one person, whom I had the honor and pleasure of passing through my life, made it all that much better — even if for only the memory of a moment or a few.
As journalists, we see a lot of sadness and tragedy and have to write about it. We also see some amazing things. We live through and report on some rare, treasured moments. We also meet some very special people. Craig Bahrs was one of those people.
Rest easy, Craig. I am confident that there are so many more out there whose days you made better — even if only for a moment, or with one brief glance and smile.
You are remembered.
The following is a released statement from the Middletown Township Police Department:
With deep sorrow, the Middletown Township Police Department regrets to announce the passing of Deputy Chief of Police Craig A. Bahrs Jr. Badge #264.
Deputy Chief Bahrs passed away peacefully at home on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 at the age of 45, following a courageous struggle with a lengthy illness.
Deputy Chief Bahrs was a lifelong resident of Middletown Township and a graduate of the Middletown High School North Class of 1987. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science from Widener University and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Training and Development from Seton Hall University.
He joined the Middletown Police Department on February 1, 1996 and served with distinction and honor for more than 18 years. During his career, he served as a Patrolman, Police K-9 handler with his K-9 partner Jack, Patrol Sergeant, Patrol Lieutenant, Deputy Chief and Commander of the Uniform Services Bureau and in his final command as the Deputy Chief of Professional Standards and Training.
Deputy Chief Bahrs was recognized as Police Officer of the Year and earned numerous commendations, including the Distinguished Service Award. He was firmly committed to the pursuit of excellence in his personal and professional life. His leadership and steadfast dedication influenced many officers and left a lasting legacy with our agency.
The Middletown Township Police Department is deeply saddened by this loss and requests that anyone who wishes to join with us, is welcome to attend a memorial service to be held on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014 at 9 a.m. at The Tower Hill First Presbyterian Church located at 255 Harding Road, in Red Bank, New Jersey, as we
gather to honor the memory of our lost brother.
From a former Haunted Mansion ghoul, and your founding editor of Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect, Happy Halloween and may you get yourself a good scare and give one, too!
There’s a mad scientist gatekeeper of sorts at the corner of River Road and Church Street in Fair Haven that we couldn’t resist featuring as a sort of Halloween host. Look for him tonight.
And while you’re trick-or-treating, remember, from this trained monster, that all good ghouls know how to give a good scare (all in fun, of course).
So, for the adults, here are a few tips:
• Play your part with heart. In other words, believe who you are for the night and other tricksters will believe it all, too.
• Give ’em a good stare-down. If you can stay in character without cracking a smile, you can send people screaming into the night.
• Give ’em a good shock scare. After staring them down, when they least expect it and think all is calm, prove them wrong and give a good scream, hiss or thump, followed by something your character would shout out.
• A good evil laugh as they run is always a fun follow-up.
Most of all, don’t try this at home unless you’re an adult or a kid supervised by parents who love the same sort of Halloween fun.
And, above all, have FUN and stay safe! Remember the area rules from police.