DENVILLE, NJ -- On St. Patrick’s Day in Denville Township, and during their regular council meeting, the governing body unanimously introduced an ordinance that will name Field #1 of Gardner Field as the “Bob Ranft Field” after lifelong township resident Robert A. Ranft Jr., who passed away in November last year at the age of 81 years old.
Ranft had gone through the Denville Public School system, graduated from Morris Hills High School, earned his associate degree from the County College of Morris and his undergraduate degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and his master’s from Montclair State. He later served as a substitute teacher at Morris Catholic High School.
Starting work for the family business at age 15, Ranft would go on to own and operate Ranft’s Denville Vacuum and Appliance and Record and Tape Shop, along with his wife Patricia and daughter Deborah. He further served in the United States Marine Corp Reserves, of the 7th Rifle Company, based in Picatinny Arsenal.
Ranft had received recognition in his home community as Denville’s Businessperson of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, a Denville Treasure and a recipient of the Muriel Hepner Award for Community Service. Ranft was a proud member of the Denville Chamber of Commerce and served on the Denville Township Open Space Committee, Denville Sports Lighting Committee, Cook’s Pond Committee, Zeek Road Development Committee and Diamond Spring Road Development Committee. Ranft also served as the Denville Rid Litter Day chair and was a volunteer for the St. Clare’s Harvest Festival, the Great Denville Duck Race, and served as the chair of the National Day of Prayer. Ranft was a regular volunteer for the Denville Senior Citizen events and was awarded Outstanding Volunteer by the Morris Park Alliance. Such community services further garnered him the first-ever key to the town.
Ranft was also known in his hometown as “Mr. Baseball” due to his love of the sport and being a coach and advocate for local baseball activities. An original plan was made to have a field dedication after the Baseball and Softball Opening Day Ceremony, sometime in April. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, however, the township will be reviewing the subject day by day.
“Bob played Little League on that field as a boy,” said Denville Mayor Thomas Andes.
“That was in the days when that was the only ball field and everything else was wetlands. As an adult, he served the baseball-playing youth of Denville for 54 years as a coach, manager, umpire, director and board member and served many times as league president. That might be enough to recognize a person, but Bob Ranft served 40 years on the Denville Recreation Committee and had a hand in the creation and development of many of our parks and recreational facilities: Gardner Field Light, Veteran Field, Muriel Hepner Park, Cook’s Pond, Project Playground 96 and the Laudati Playground.”
“He was a well-rounded volunteer who served on the Historical Society, P.R.I.D.E. Council, Kiwanis and the Denville Centennial Steering Committee. He always loved doing lip-sync for the Joey Bella Foundation and running the annual Holiday Parade. Bob and his wife Pat both passed last year within months of each other after close to 60 years of marriage. Bob Ranft was Denville through and through and had a blessed life. He had a great family, lived and worked his whole life in Denville, loved the town and showed other people why Denville deserved to be loved by his actions.”
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