UPPER FREEHOLD – Robert Abrams, who served the municipality of Upper Freehold Township for two decades on the Township Committee, has died.
Abrams, 88, died on July 9 of congestive heart failure, according to an obituary posted online by the Peppler Funeral Home, Allentown.
Abrams, who was born in Newark, had been a resident of Upper Freehold Township since 1966. He served on the Township Committee from 1974-95.
During his 21 years of service on the governing body, Abrams was elected by his peers to hold the position of mayor in 1976, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1992.
Abrams’ obituary states he was the first non-farmer in the rural agricultural community to be elected to the Township Committee.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Abrams served in the military during the Korean War as an aircraft mechanic and achieved the rank of First Class Petty Officer.
Following four years of military service, Abrams became a helicopter flight tester with Boeing Vertol.
He later worked at Princeton University on the Tokomak atomic fusion project; helped Thiokol and later Morton Thiokol’s engineering team build the Minuteman missile; and supervised the Gemini and Surveyor moon lander projects, according to his obituary.
Abrams was a member of the accident investigation team assigned to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. He received an Air Force commendation for his investigation of the Peacekeeper missile accident in Utah.
Abrams’ obituary states he enjoyed the beauty of Upper Freehold and that his public service was motivated by a desire to maintain the township’s rural qualities.
In 2003, Abrams was honored by the Township Committee for his many years of service to the community.
That year he spoke to the Examiner about his conflicts with developers regarding issues he believed were adversely affecting Upper Freehold.
“Some landowners who have lived here all their lives don’t realize how beautiful this township is. They don’t realize how easily it would be destroyed. They have never lost what they had in a town,” Abrams said.
Following his father’s passing, Abrams’ son, Gary, wrote a message on social media in which he said, “I lost my father, my companion and my best friend. The world lost an accomplished and unique man and the world is a far less interesting place without him.”
According to his obituary, Abrams was a collector of Native American artifacts and dinosaur fossils. He shared his knowledge of those items at local elementary schools. He was an expert in rare and exotic rhododendron flowers.
Abrams was predeceased in 2010 by his wife Jody, to whom he was married for 55 years. He is survived by his daughter, Sherry, and son, Gary.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675.