United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ announced that the late Short Hills businessman Lawrence Gonzer, who died in December 2010, has bequeathed $7-$8 million in trusts that will eventually create major gifts to the UJC’s William and Betty Lester Society.
The society honors those who have made gifts or pledges of $100,000 or more in support of endowments for the federation’s UJA Campaign or its Women’s Philanthropy Campaign.
“This represents one of the largest contributions made, to date, for a Lester Society commitment,” said UJC MetroWest executive vice president Max Kleinman in announcing the bequest on Oct. 12.
“Our understanding is that after Larry passed away, his estate put this money into two charitable trusts. Each trust will pay an income to each of Larry’s adult children. When they pass away, whatever is left in those trusts will be distributed to JCF,” explained Joshua Rednik, director of the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest, UJC’s endowments and planned giving arm.
The Lester Society has assets and commitments exceeding $100 million.
Gonzer, who died at the age of 83, was born in Newark and lived in Short Hills.
He served as a vice president and trustee of Temple Emanu-El of West Essex in Livingston, and on the boards of UJC MetroWest, Daughters of Israel, and the Jewish Historical Society of MetroWest.
“We told his children we wanted to honor him for thinking of our Jewish community,” said Kleinman. “He was a terrific guy who participated in all of our activities and showed great support. What he will be leaving to our community serves as a terrific legacy for his life and his beliefs.”
Gonzer was president and CEO of L.J. Gonzer Associates, a Cranford firm involved in temporary staffing and technical services, and a cofounder of the National Technical Services Association.
An active alumnus of Cornell University, where he received a degree in mechanical engineering, Gonzer was past president of the Cornell Club of Essex County and Northern New Jersey, and was a sponsor of scholarships.
He was also an active member of Green Brook Country Club in North Caldwell and a scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 95 in Hillside.
“He had a sense of fairness and righteousness, and he was willing to fight for his causes,” said Floyd Shapiro, a Livingston resident and past JCF president. “He was one of the finest men I ever knew.”
The two men had been close friends since 1958, when Shapiro was a law clerk at a firm where Gonzer was a client.
“He was a self-made man,” said Shapiro, “and he was always generous to his alma mater, Cornell, and to the Jewish community,”
Gonzer is survived by his son, Marc; his daughter, Kate; his brother, Robert; and his sister-in-law, Georgiana.