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Ruth Bilenker
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Ruth Bilenker

Ruth Bilenker (Margaretten), 92, of Elizabeth died Aug. 12, 2017. She was born in Brooklyn.

Mrs. Bilenker retired in 1984 as English coordinator/supervisor in the division of instruction of the Elizabeth secondary schools, a position she held since 1962. She first joined the school system in 1959 as an English teacher and curriculum chairman at the former Battin High School. She served as president of the Central Administrative Council and was also on the board of directors of the Elizabeth School of Adult Education. 

After World War II she taught English to foreign-born doctors and was assistant director of the National Audubon Society’s photo and film department.

She attended the University of Wisconsin and earned a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and a master’s degree from Columbia University. 

She was twice elected president of the board of Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Central New Jersey; she was the agency’s first woman president when elected in 1981 and she served again 1989-1990. She was a board member until 2015; she served on several committees, led the monthly JFS food pantry packing, and produced 20 short documentaries about the agency’s social services. In 1992, JFS honored her by establishing the annual Ruth Bilenker Award to recognize contributors of outstanding service to the agency.

Following her retirement from the Elizabeth public schools, she led teaching workshops. In addition, she organized fund-raisers to benefit elderly shut-ins and led a music therapy program at the Elizabeth Nursing Home. 

In 2004, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders recognized her for “Outstanding Achievement for Exceptional Volunteer Service to Union County.”

She was a member of the Jewish Educational Center, YM-YWHA, and a lifetime Hadassah member.

Predeceased by her husband, Dr. Eugene N., she is survived by three children, Susan Bilenker of Sarasota, Fla., Dr. James Bilenker (Lanie) of Whitehouse Station, and Vicki Bilenker of Elizabeth; a brother, Richard Marten of Riverside, Calif.; a sister, Millicent Kaplan of Brooklyn; and two grandchildren. 

Services were held Aug. 14 with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston.

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