Esther D. Schwarz (Epstein), 79, a former Irvington South Ward Councilwoman, died July 29, 2012. Born in Newark, she resided in Irvington for the past 46 years.
Mrs. Schwarz’s political career began in 1976 when she was elected to the Irvington Municipal Council as South Ward Councilwoman, and was re-elected again in 1980 and 1984, serving 12 years. During that time, she served as a trustee of the Irvington Adult School, member of the Irvington General Hospital Board of Managers, and as chair of the Emerald Society raising funds for the hospital. Her years in public service saw improvements in housing, neighborhood preservation, neighborhood watches throughout the town, and the rezoning of Olympic Park for commercial, industrial, and business properties. Following the formation of the Esther D. Schwarz Civic Association, she became involved in township parades, recreational facilities for senior citizens, Little League and was the driving force of raising scholarship money for graduating high school seniors. The association raised $12,000 in 1994 for the new addition to Irvington General Hospital Intensive Care Unit’s waiting room in memory of her late husband, John. By state appointment she also ran the Irvington Motor Vehicle Agency on Springfield Avenue.
In 1985, she was appointed director of the Consumer Affairs Office in Essex County and in 1988 returned to Irvington as business administrator-purchasing agent. She became the full-time purchasing agent and worked for the township for an additional 13 years before retiring in 2001. Post-retirement, her summers were dedicated to serving the YM-YWHA of Union County’s summer camp as their enrichment counselor.
She taught kindergarten-second grade at Oheb Shalom Congregation, South Orange, for 25 years, and served as principal of Congregation AABS in Union.
She received an associate degree in accounting and business organization from Rutgers University. She held certifications in the Role of Governing Body and the Division of Local Government Services. She was a registered public purchasing agent, and held a license in municipal tax collection. She also studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in Manhattan.
She was the founder of the American Hope Association for the homeless in the late 1980s, and was instrumental in getting food subsidies for citizens through the Mt. Carmel Guild in Newark. She was responsible for the Head Start Program in Irvington and served as president of the Webster Women’s Club for several years, bringing Neighborhood Watch to the South Ward.
While her children attended Irvington public schools, she was active with the PTA on many levels, serving as president of Union Avenue School and Frank H. Morrell High School. She was later elected president of the Essex County Council Parent Teacher Association, and served for four years as State PTA Mental Health Chair. She received life membership in the National PTA in 1982. She spearheaded efforts to raise the drinking age in New Jersey from 18 to 21 under Gov. Brendan Byrne’s administration.
A longtime member of Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange, she served as president of its Miriam Sisterhood. She was past president of the National Council for Jewish Women’s Charter Division, where she received the Hannah B. Solomon Award for Humanitarian Efforts, and was president of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism’s Northern New Jersey Region. Among her awards and accolades was the “Spirit of Service Honor” in 2010 from Marylawn of the Oranges Academy.
She was listed in volumes of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Finance, Women in Public Office, International Register of Profiles, and Who’s Who of Intellectuals.
Predeceased by her husband in 1985, she is survived by her daughter, Bonnie Schwarz Sacks of Bridgewater; two sons, Michael of Ramsey and Perry of East Stroudsburg, Pa.; a brother, Sanford B. Epstein of Morris Plains; and seven grandchildren.
Services were held Aug. 1 with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston. Memorial contributions may be made to Miriam Sisterhood of Oheb Shalom Congregation or Northern New Jersey Region of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.