ROXBURY, NJ – Veteran Roxbury Councilman Richard Zoschak, who died Wednesday, “loved Roxbury” and his constituents, said his wife and council colleagues today.

Zoschak, 76, died in the afternoon at Morristown Memorial Hospital, said his widow, Diana Zoschak. She said her husband of 40 years - who struggled with limited lung capacity due to a childhood bout with polio - was brought to the hospital late Tuesday evening.

She said Zoschak, a Landing resident of 38 years and a Roxbury councilman for 17, fell into unconsciousness in a chair and did not respond to her efforts to awaken him.

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“I called his name and got nothing,” said Zoschak. “I was shaking him and got no response, so I called 9-1-1. That was at about 11 o’clock. They put oxygen on him and got no response.”

She said similar efforts by doctors at the hospital that night and the next morning proved futile. 

Missed the Council Meeting

Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall said he spoke to Zoschak at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. He said he called to find out why Zoschak did not attend the remote council meeting that took place earlier in the evening.

“We had a conversation," Hall said. “He was a little out of it. The next morning, I got a call from Diana saying Rich went to the ICU ... I'm very upset about this. I've known Richie for 25 years. He was my running-mate since the year 2000.”

Zoschak, born in Passaic, worked for many years as an electrical engineer, said his wife. She said she met him at a club. “I went with my friends,” Zoschak said. “It was my first time there ever.”

After moving to Roxbury, the couple formed Zoschak Photography. “We were business partners,” said his wife. “He was my best friend.”

Zoschak, a Republican, entered his fifth, 4-year-long term on the Roxbury Township Council in January 2020. He was also a member of the Roxbury Rotary Club.

The councilman survived a close brush with death in January 2017 while at his St. Thomas vacation home. The circumstances were similar to those that took place this week in that his wife, who had gone out for a while, came home to find Zoschak unconscious due to elevated levels of carbon dioxide in his lungs.

“My CO2 level was close to 200,” he said in an interview afterward. “My pulmonologist said he’d seen that level only in a dead person. It’s a miracle I’m here.”

A 'Part of the Fabric' of Roxbury

Hall praised his former colleague and said arrangements are being made to fly flags in Roxbury at half-mast in his honor.

“I never met somebody who liked to be on council as much as Rich,” he said. "He really, really loved his job. He had a real passion for the council. He took the position seriously. He really tried to help people in Ward 1 when they had issues and, as a result, Richie always got re-elected.”

“Rich was a part of the fabric of this community," said Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo. “He was one of the most dedicated public servants I have ever met. He was constantly advocating for his constituents and the residents of Roxbury, and he will be greatly missed by his friends and fellow council members.”

DeFillippo said he hopes the community will remember Zoschak's “outstanding legacy to Roxbury” from years of service. “Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife Diana and their family during this time of great sorrow,” he added.

Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee, another long-time colleague, called Zoschak "a fierce advocate for Ward 1 and Roxbury" as a whole. "He was thoughtful and active in every committee he has been on for the nearly two decades he served Roxbury," Rilee added. "I will miss him very much."

Funeral arrangements for Zoschak have yet to be announced.

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