NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Two widely revered figures who served the city for decades were honored with a moment of silence before Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.
Bob Recine was remembered as a caring and courageous man who overcame a spinal injury suffered during a football game to serve on the city’s council for 16 years.
And Stephen Farkas, who passed away on April 16, was recalled for his dedicated service to the New Brunswick school system that included stints as physical education teacher, vice-principal and assistant to the superintendent.
In calling for the moment of silence, Board of Education Vice President Dale Caldwell said the city will miss their enduring spirits.
News of Recine’s death spread across social media Tuesday night as many took to Facebook to pay their respects. For instance, Kevin Hoagland, Middlesex County Surrogate, said his longtime friend “was an inspiration to all of us who knew him.”
Recine stepped down in December 2012 after 16 years on the council, which included stints as president.
He was appointed to the council to fill an unexpired term in 1996 and was elected to a four-year term later that year. In 2000, Recine was re-elected along with running mates Joe Schrum and Jimmie Cook.
After his final meeting, he received an ovation from his fellow council members and a plaque commemorating his service.
Recine was a lifelong resident of New Brunswick and graduated from Rutgers.
He used a wheelchair for most of his life after he broke his neck Nov. 8, 1975, while playing football at Rutgers.
"I have known Bob for many years,” said City Council Vice President Suzanne Sicora Ludwig. “He was a true gentleman filled with compassion and determination. I proudly supported him during his 16 years of service on the City Council and he was one of the first people to lend his support and guidance to me when I was later elected to the same. He encouraged me to continue being visible and immerse myself in the entire New Brunswick community, yet, he said most importantly, remain strong and true to your convictions without losing your heart for those you serve. This advice emanated his spirit and resolve.
“I am saddened by his loss. I pray for his mother and family, and I am grateful to have known him as a friend.”
Said Caldwell, “Bobby Recine was a New Brunswick icon who loved the city and exuded extraordinary positivity. He did not let a Rutgers football accident impact his love of people.”
Farkas, 90, passed away April 16 after a fight with COVID-19.
According to his obituary, he was a graduate of New Brunswick High School and the College of New Jersey (then called Trenton State Teacher’s College).
Besides his service in education and administrative roles in the city’s schools, Farkas made is mark in the sports arena.
He worked as a high school football referee and as a high school track coach – he coached one of the first racially integrated track teams in the area. He was inducted into the New Brunswick High School Sports Hall of Fame and was honored for his lifetime achievements in sports and for his influence on countless students, according to his obituary.
He leaves behind his wife of 65 years, Grace, son Daniel Farkas of Clearwater, Florida; daughter Stephanie Salinas of Westwood, Massachusetts. and her husband Nehemias Salinas; grandson Benjamin Salinas of Providence, Rhode Island; grandson Stephen Salinas of East Somerville, Massachusetts and his wife Laura Salinas; great-grandson Samuel Salinas of East Somerville, Massachusetts.; and a large family and extended family.
The city is also mourning the loss of Joe Schrum's brother, Thomas. Thomas, who passed away Saturday, was 58, according to his obituary.