SOMERVILLE NJ - Former Assemblyman and State Senator Raymond Bateman, a giant in politics, public policy and education whose career spanned six decades, died early this morning at age 88. Bateman was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. At the time of his death, Bateman served on the Board of Trustees of Raritan Valley Community College, where he had served since 1979.
Bateman enjoyed an illustrious career in politics and in state government. He was born and reared in Somerville, and graduated from Somerville High School at a time when Somerset County had only four high schools. His mother was a French teacher and his father was the publisher of the Somervile Messenger-Gazette, where he started his work life.
A military veteran, Bateman served in Japan following World War Two. After he served in the military, he attended Wesleyan University, graduating in 1950. After graduating from Wesleyan, Bateman attended the Woodrow Wilson School of Government. Bateman left the Wilson School to start his career in politics.
During the 1950s Bateman served four years as Executive Director of the New Jersey Republican State Committee and a legislative aide to then-Senator Malcolm Forbes. He also served a key role in Americans for Eisenhower, the group that recruited the late President Dwight D. Eishenhower to run for president. At the age of twenty-nine, he was elected to the State Assembly from Somerset County. He served ten years in the Assembly, followed by ten years in the State Senate. Bateman occupied leadership positions in both houses.
During his tenure in the legislature, Bateman was responsible for landmark legislation that helped shape the New Jersey and the Somerset County we know today. He was a driving force behind the legislation that created the Green Acres program and the legislation that enabled the creation of the county colleges.
Following his legislative career, Bateman dedicated himself to Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg. There are some who refer to Raritan Valley Community as "The House that Ray Built". He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the college from 1979 through his death, attending meetings and serving as Chair of the Governance Committee through April 2016.
Bateman chaired the Board of Trustees for twenty-five years. During his tenure as Chairman, Bateman spearheaded the growth, expansion, and success of RVCC. During his tenure Hunterdon County joined Somerset County in RVCC, establishing RVCC as teh firstcommunity college in New Jersey to serve two counties; RVCC constructed its Theatre at RVCC with $2 million in private donations raised to match public funding; RVCC established the first childcare center at a community college in NJ; RVCC opened its the Planetarium; and established the Somerset County Police Academy on campus.
The college honored him by naming the student activity center for him.
Follow TAP for updates as Somerset County re-acts to the passing of Raymond Bateman.