In Memoriam: Longtime Red Bank, Little Silver Resident, Civil Rights Activist, Flo Apy

Longtime Red Bank and Little Silver resident, Florence Walton Pye Apy, peacefully passed away on Thursday evening, March 28, in hospice at Riverview Medical Center, surrounded by her family.  

Flo was born on May 5, 1931 in Spring Lake to Reginald C. and Florence Walton Pye, and remained a life-long resident of New Jersey. Her early childhood was spent in Glen Rock and Ridgewood, until at 13 her family moved to Red Bank.

She met her future husband, Chester Apy in eighth grade at Miss Mozar’s Dancing Class. Flo graduated from Red Bank High School and was a 1953 graduate of Sweet Briar College in Virginia.

She married Chester Apy in 1954 a week before his graduation from Princeton University, and the couple moved to New York City. While her husband attended Columbia University Law School, Flo began six years of work at the College Entrance Examination Board, sparking a lifelong passion for education. After her husband graduated, they moved to Red Bank and then in 1960 to Little Silver where they raised their three sons, David, Donald and Dean.

“While attending Sweet Briar, Florence began her engagement in the Civil Rights movement in response to the racial segregation she had witnessed in southeast Virginia. She returned to Monmouth County inspired to work for racial equality campaigning for fair housing laws for minorities. On August 28, 1963 she and her mother-in-law Grace Wiseburn Apy traveled to Washington DC to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, calling for the protection of equal rights for all Americans.

“During the following decades Flo entered public service and was elected to three, three-year terms on the Little Silver Board of Education where she eventually served as president for four years. Subsequently she was elected to five three-year terms on the Red Bank Regional Board of Education where she also served as president. Under her leadership, the first regional district Alternative School was conceived and established. During those years she was also active at both the county and state levels of the New Jersey School Boards Association. As a member of the NJSBA Board of Directors for more than a decade her work significantly influenced educational policy throughout the state.

“In June of 1993 she was the recipient of the “Ty Lewis Spirit Award” given by the Black American Cultural Association, recognizing her courage and moral leadership. She was the first white female recipient to be so honored. In response, she indicated simply that her personal satisfaction was found in making a difference for the better.

“Beyond her desire to advocate for the rights of minorities, women and all those subject to discrimination, Flo was devoted to her children and grandchildren, whose lives have been forever impacted by her legacy.”

Loved ones of Flo Apy in her obituary

After Flo and her husband Chet retired from public service, they moved to the Atrium in Red Bank in 2013. There, they remained active community members until her husband Chester predeceased her in 2021.

In addition to her parents and husband, Florence was predeceased by her brother CDR Reginald C Pye, Jr. USN; and her sister-in-law Helen Lee Apy and her brothers-in-law Arthur G. Apy and Douglas K. Apy.

She is survived by: her three sons and their spouses, David C. and Patricia McHale Apy, of Little Silver, Donald W. and Jennifer Apy, of Fremont, CA, Dean W. and Susan Yount Apy, of La Crescenta, CA; and her 10 beloved grandchildren and their partners, Emily Powell Bera and Danny Bera, of Alexandria, VA, David C. Apy Jr. and Julia L. Millington, of Little Silver, Daniel F. Apy and Abby Hawkins, of Long Branch, Andrew W. Apy, of Fremont, CA, Marissa G. Apy, Claremont, CA, Christopher J. Apy, of Fremont, CA, Alexandra G. Apy, Bethlehem, PA, and Mallory M. Apy, Jackson G. Apy and Trevor D Apy, of La Crescenta, CA.

In lieu of flowers, Florence’s family respectfully suggests contributions of time or resource be made in her honor to the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, 94 Drs. James Parker Blvd, Red Bank New Jersey; Camp Bethel Association, Haddam CT c/o Lea DeGuilo, 202 7th Street, Green Brook, NJ; or to the charitable organization of your choice.

— Edited obituary prepared by family via Thompson Memorial Home