SOMERVILLE, NJ – Somerset County will fly its flags at half-staff July 12 in memory of Grace A. Gurisic, who served as the county’s first woman freeholder more than half a century ago.
Gurisic passed away June 9; she was 84. Funeral services will be held 8:30 a.m. Thursday, July 12, from the Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home in Wayne. A funeral mass will follow at St. Mary’s RC Church in Pompton Lakes; burial will be at the Rocky Hill Cemetery in Rocky Hill.
Described as “a public servant of boundless energy,” Grace Gurisic was first elected to the Rocky Hill Borough Council at the age of 22 while still a student at Rider College; two years later, she became the youngest woman mayor in the United States. In 1959, she was elected to the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders – the board’s first female member – and served from 1960 to 1965.
In 2010, Freeholder Patricia Walsh – the county’s sixth woman freeholder to date – presented Ms. Gurisic with a ceremonial resolution on behalf of the freeholder board as part of Women’s History Month.
As freeholder, the resolution noted, she was instrumental in initiating programs that continue to help guide the county today, including the Industrial Commission, a forerunner to the economic development program; centralized county purchasing; and the appointment of the first county administrator and the first county college board of trustees. She also encouraged flood-plain zoning, making Somerset County the first county to do so, and advocated for welfare reform with an emphasis on education and training.
The 2010 resolution commended Ms. Gurisic “for her many years of commitment and dedicated service to the residents of Somerset County.” Freeholder Walsh read a brief statement at the July 10, 2018 meeting honoring the late freeholder.
Ms. Gurisic worked for the state of New Jersey and later was special assistant to Congressman Robert A. Roe from 1960 to 1993. Her complete obituary can be found at http://bit.ly/GraceGurisic