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Daesener recalled as Freehold native who got things done

By Clare Marie Celano

FREEHOLD – Friends and family members will gather at the Freeman Funeral Home, 47 W. Main St., from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 23 to remember Freehold Borough native August J. Daesener, who friends have called a caring man, a loyal friend, a problem solver and one-of-a-kind.

Daesener, who was known as Augie, was a resident of Bridgeville, Del., at the time of his death on Dec. 10, 2015.

Daesener attended Freehold Borough schools, the Lawrenceville School and Wabash College, Indiana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science.

Daesener, his brother, Richard, and other partners owned the landmark American Hotel on East Main Street for many years.

Daesener was the owner and vice president of Hawthorn Sommerfield, Freehold, which was one of the largest U.S. manufacturers/distributors of Christmas cards. He and his brother, Richard, and other partners built the Sheraton Gardens Hotel (now the Radisson) in Freehold Township in 1978.

Daesener served on the Borough Council in Freehold Borough from 1969-71. He was a former member of the Freehold Fire Department’s Monmouth Hose Company and a founding board member of the Hudson Manor senior citizens apartment building.

Daesener owned race horses, was a piano player, loved the opera and playing bridge.

Borough Councilman Ron Griffiths and Daesener were lifelong friends and Griffiths said Daesener was “one-of-a-kind,” a “problem solver” and “a loyal, caring and faithful friend.” Their friendship dated to their days playing baseball on opposing teams in the Freehold Little League.

“Augie was elected as a councilman while he was in his 20s,” Griffiths said. “At the time, he was either the youngest or one of the youngest persons elected to the governing body.”

Griffiths referenced comedian Flip Wilson’s character “Geraldine” when he said that with Daesener, “What you see is what you get.”

“What you got with Augie was a friend,” Griffiths said. “He was the kind of person who visited you in the hospital, put up a homeless friend in the Sheraton, and used his seemingly endless influence to help friends with their problems.”

Rich Kane, who also grew up with Daesener, said his friend was a “behind the scenes kind of guy. He didn’t need accolades. He didn’t need that pat on the back. He just got things done.”

Kane served as the borough’s recreation director when Daesener was the council’s liaison to the recreation committee.

“One summer I wanted to find the kids a place to go swimming. I spoke with people at the YMCA and they said we could bring our kids to Camp Hepburn in Freehold Township, but that we would need to transport them ourselves. I knew we had no money for buses, but I went to Augie nonetheless,” Kane said, adding that Daesener asked for a few days to figure something out.

“After a couple of days, Augie said, ‘I have your problem solved. We’re going to take the kids to the camp in the borough’s dump trucks,’ ” Kane remembered. “We loaded them into the dump trucks at a park as their parents waved goodbye.

“If you had an idea and Augie thought it had possibilities, Augie would let you go with it. He never worried about repercussions. The bottom line was that if it was good for the kids, somehow he would get it done. He had a heart of gold. There was not a problem he couldn’t solve in recreation. He knew enough people and was aggressive and tenacious enough to get what was needed.”

At one point, Daesener secured funds for new playground equipment and brought volunteers together to install it.

Roger Kane, a former mayor and the brother of Rich Kane, also played Little League baseball with Daesener.

“We were friends all through life,” Kane said. “Augie was a tremendous guy. He cared about people. His life was here in Freehold Borough. From his work on the governing body to his work with Hudson Manor, he was involved in the town. He truly was a Freehold guy.”

Kane said Daesener’s connections in and out of the area helped him to do things for the town.

“Augie was well-respected, as was the Daesener name,” Kane said. “We traveled a lot together to New York and Atlantic City and wherever we ate or stayed they knew the Daesener name. He opened doors for us.”

Kane called his friend “unfiltered.”

“You never had to wonder what Augie was thinking. It was all right there,” he said. “He had a way about him and people loved his candid demeanor. He was one-of-a-kind, honest, trustworthy and generous to a fault. He was a great friend and I am going to miss him … A lot of people are going to miss him.”

Daesener is survived by his wife, Janet; three children with his former wife Susan, and their spouses, August and Jacqueline, Richard and Dona, and Samantha; a brother and sister-in-law, Richard and Susan; six stepchildren, Charles, John, Robert, William, Sheri and Michelle D’Amato; a niece and nephew, Christopher and Heather; and many grandchildren.

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