ORANGE, NJ – During a special presentation at the Hall of Records, the Essex County
Board of Chosen Freeholders honored the life and leadership of the late Brendan Byrne,
former New Jersey Governor.
Governor Byrne was born in Orange and grew up in West Orange in a Roman Catholic
family with deep Irish roots. His father, Francis A. Byrne, served for 15 years on the
municipal governing body of West Orange and was appointed by successive governors to
terms on the State Tax Commission.
Governor Byrne was a West Orange High School Mountaineer and a Princeton University
and Harvard Law School graduate. He grew up deeply rooted in Essex County’s
community, hence the bronze statue proudly rests in the county’s Government Complex
commemorating his leadership and service, just steps away from where he gained his start
at the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Before he became Governor, Brendan Byrne served as former Governor Meyner’s Acting
Executive Secretary, Deputy Attorney General in charge of the Essex County Prosecutor’s
Office, President of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners, and Assignment Judge
for Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties.
During the presentation, Freeholder President Brendan W. Gill and Freeholder At-Large
Patricia Sebold, along with the members of the Board, presented a Commendation to his
wife, Ruthi. The Freeholders recognized Governor Byrne’s unique leadership, great sense
of humor, and love for New Jersey, especially Essex County.
During his two terms as Governor, he spearheaded the following initiatives: the personal
income tax; the Pinelands Preservation Act; the development of the Meadowlands Sports
Complex; the development of the casinos in Atlantic City; the construction of major
highway segments, such as Interstate 287 and the expansion of the Atlantic City
Expressway; the development and modernization of sewage and water supply facilities; and
the addition of State capital support for urban redevelopment through the Community
Development Bond Act, an act that provided funding for the construction of the New
Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark and the Liberty Science Center in
Governor Brendan Byrne served on the Board of Directors of the Prudential Life Insurance
Company of America, Jamesway Corporation, Mack-Cali Realty Company, and the New
Jersey Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.
He is predeceased by daughter Susan Byrne. He is also survived by his wife, Ruthi
(Greenfield); four sons, Brendan Thomas, Jr., of Princeton, Timothy of Princeton, William
of Maplewood, and Michael Zinn of Montclair; three daughters, Nancy Byrne of Red
Bank, a former director of the state division of tourism, Mary Anne Byrne of South
Plainfield, Barbara Stefan of Cohasset, Massachusetts, and Laura Fromm. He is also
survived by 16 grandchildren and a host of friends, relatives, and colleagues that will
cherish his memory.