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Richard Amster
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Richard Amster

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Richard L. Amster of Morristown died April 10, 2016. He was born in Spring Lake in 1922, was raised in Elizabeth until age 13, and was sent to boarding school, graduating at age 16. He later maintained a home in Long Beach Island.

He attended a college that had an accelerated program and graduated at age 19. He immediately entered the Navy V7 program and 90 days later was commissioned an Ensign. He was sent to anti-submarine warfare school in Florida and fleet gunnery school in California and then went to the Pacific Theater, where he participated in the struggle for the control of the Bismarck Sea and the eastern Solomons. His ship was sunk off Leyte Gulf at the outset of the invasion of the Philippines. He continued to serve in the Pacific Theater, including in the first landing at Guadalcanal. He was a highly decorated veteran and honorably separated from the Navy with the rank of Lieutenant USNR in 1956.

He entered Columbia University’s School of Law on the GI bill, graduated in 1948, and passed the New Jersey bar exam that same year. Shortly after opening an office in Newark he accepted a clerkship by Justice Nathan L. Jacobs. After his clerkship he opened a law office in Newark and was the senior partner in the firm of Amster and Levin. He ultimately moved the office to Millburn and then went of counsel with a law firm in Roseland. 

He was appointed to Columbia Law School’s Board of Visitors and in 1981 was awarded its medal for conspicuous service to the school. During his years at the bar he was trustee and chairman of the Clients Security Fund and chairman of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Client Security and a member of its Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. He retired from the practice of law in 1998. 

A trustee of Newark Beth Israel Hospital, when the hospital was sold he became a charter trustee of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, which administered the funds from the sale and became a charitable grantor to health-related organizations. He was a founder of Democrats for Good Government. He was an early proponent of tort reform in New Jersey, which resulted in the enactment of automobile no-fault legislation.

He was co-founder of the Millburn Short Hills First Aid Squad, serving as captain and president. He was also president of the Millburn Short Hills Little League and counsel to the Neighborhood House, which was the home of the visiting nurse and other health-related facilities.

Gov. Thomas Kean appointed him to the Board of Commissioners of the New York and New Jersey Maritime Pilot & Docking Commission. With the help of subsequent appointees, the commission became an effective oversight body seeking to ensure safe navigation in the Port of New York and New Jersey and ultimately brought in all docking pilots for licensing and regulation. He was reappointed by successive governors and served for 30 years before retiring.

He is survived by his wife of more than 66 years, Barbara Ann (Levin); two sons, Richard Jr. (Pam) and Douglas; his daughter, Jeanne Ellen (Ken); and four grandchildren. 

Services were held April 15 with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston. Memorial contributions may be made to Atlantic Healthcare Foundation, Morristown, or Healthcare Foundation of NJ, Millburn.

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