BRIDGEWATER, NJ - George Harlan, a former zoning board member in both Bridgewater and Somerville, died at age 85 Oct. 10, and he was recognized and remembered by the township council.

“It’s a considerable loss to the community,” said councilman Michael Kirsh.

Council vice president Filipe Pedroso said he had a long history with Harlan that stretched back over a decade.

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“I served with George on the zoning board,” said Pedroso.

He said that Harlan had served 30 years in all on the zoning boards in the two municipalities, and eventually became zoning board chairman in Bridgewater.

“What a fantastic chair he was,” said Pedroso. “He was extremely professional, and was always prepared.”

He praised Harlan for his demeanor and his approach to the public.

“He kept applications moving,” said Pedroso. “He was such a gentleman, and he addressed the public with respect.”  

Pedroso added that he will miss Harlan.

Council president Howard Norgalis said that Harlan “lived a life of public service” to both Bridgewater and Somerset County, and that his passing “cast a big shadow.”

Bridgewater Township administrator Michael Pappas said he had known Harlan since 1984, and called him “a fine gentleman with a fine family.”

The council crafted a proclamation in honor of Harlan, which was read by Pedroso. It stated that Harlan had been born in Baltimore in 1935, and graduated from the University of Delaware in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, before working at Union Carbide in Piscataway for 40 years, retiring in 1997.

He then served as a volunteer Medicare counselor for over 20 years in Somerville, where he had settled in 1961, before moving to Bridgewater in 1984. Voted one of the top 10 Medicare counselors in New Jersey, Harlan also served on the Somerville and Bridgewater zoning boards for a combined three decades, before retiring as zoning board chairman in Bridgewater in 2010.

“He was dedicated to preserving quality of life in the county and the township,” said Pedroso.

Harlan, who also served as a U.S. Air Force reservist, leaves behind his wife Marsha, son Michael and two grandchildren.

“All Bridgewater residents owe him a debt of gratitude,” said Pedroso. “He was one of Bridgewater’s most beloved residents.”

“Truly a life well lived,” added Norgalis after the proclamation was read in full.

Norgalis also mentioned the passing of Rev. Dr. John F. Stephenson, Jr., who died Oct. 4 at the age of 89.

According to his obituary, Stephenson moved to Bridgewater in 1980 and earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago two years later, before becoming a professional leader and volunteer.

He served on the Bridgewater-Raritan Board of Education, the Somerset County Educational Services Commission, the Somerset County Human Services Advisory Council and the Somerset County Board of Social Services, among many other committees and commissions.

Pappas said he had known Stephenson as a county official.

“He was a dedicated public servant,” said Pappas. “He leaves a significant hole in county government.”