Former Mayor Robert Kress, MVMC Member, 1939-2018

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Apr 242018
 

We are very sorry to share news of the passing of an integral member of the Montgomery Veterans Memorial Committee family, former Montgomery Mayor Robert Kress, on April 17, 2018.  Please follow this link to his obituary: https://memorials.bakerpostfh.com/robert-kress/3487023/obituary.php

Mr. Kress is fondly remembered and greatly appreciated for his many, many years of active volunteer service to Montgomery Township.  These included his tireless work from the very beginning in 1991 to fundraise for and with great joy at last, to oversee the construction of the Montgomery Veterans Memorial in 2011.  He was also active in developing the Veterans Day Observance Program, a well-attended event honoring our veterans, which has been held every year since the Memorial was built on Veterans Day, November 11th. He will be missed.

Committee Members

 

MONTGOMERY VETERANS MEMORIAL
COMMITTEE MEMBERS
January, 2018

Pete Rayner (Navy), Chairman
Former Montgomery Township Administrator, Retired

Dale Weingart, Deputy Chairwoman
Lead teacher, All Day Learning Centers
Former Administrative Assistant and Head Teller, Montgomery National Bank

Hugh Dyer (Navy), Regular Member
American Management Co., Retired

Hon. Ted Lubas (Army), Regular Member
Former Mayor, Montgomery Township, Retired

Hon. Don Matthews, Regular Member
Former Mayor, Montgomery Township
Senior Vice President, Filigree Systems, Inc.

Harel Rosen, MD, Regular Member
Neonatologist, Onsite Neonatal Partners, Inc. & Riddle Memorial Hospital
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Drexel University
Military Medical Collector and Historian

Mark Caliguire, Advisor
Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Patricia Graham, Township Committee Liaison
Montgomery Township Committee

Ed Trzaska, Advisor
Committeeman, Montgomery Township

Mike Maloney (Marine Corps), Advisor
Landscape Designer, Landscape Marshal

Tom Devine, Advisor
Owner, Midlantic Medical Systems

William G. Hyncik, Jr., (Army), Advisor
Executive Director, Princeton Orthopaedic Associates

Karen Zimmerman, Advisor
Montgomery Twp. Recreation Director

Nancy Gartenberg, Advisor
Superintendent, Montgomery Twp. School District

Christopher Jaeger, Advisor/Police Dept. Liaison

IN MEMORIAM

Honoring the significant contributions of past Committee Members

Gerald (Gerry) Cianfrocca (Army)
Vietnam War Veteran, Founding member and First MVM Committee Chair, Executive at Johnson & Johnson

Claude Lewis (Navy)
WW II Veteran, Founding MVM Committee member, Montgomery Township Fire Commissioner & Fire Police

Robert Kress
Founding MVM Committee member, Former Mayor of Montgomery Township

Eligibility Criteria

 

During the years 1991 through 2001 when the committee first began to consider the nature of a veterans memorial for Montgomery Township, we firmly believed that a key element of the memorial should be the names of Montgomery residents who had served our nation in either the armed forces or the merchant marine during times of war. We recognized that Montgomery’s boundaries have changed over the years, and decided that those who lived in what is no longer part of Montgomery would be considered Montgomery residents provided where they lived was part of Montgomery at the time of their service. Specifically, those who lived in parts of what are now Princeton and Rocky Hill during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are considered to have been Montgomery residents.

One of the most traditional ways for communities to recognize veterans is to include only the names of those who were residents of the community at the time they entered their military service or service in the merchant marine. However, this criterion was virtually impossible to implement, particularly when researching the names of those who served during our earliest wars in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Since it was also our desire to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, when identifying those Montgomery residents who had served, we initially decided to include the names of all Montgomery residents, past and present, who had served in times of war, rather than just listing those who were residents of Montgomery at the time they entered the service.

Our research through the year 2000 has yielded the names of approximately eight hundred and fifty Montgomery residents who have served our nation in times of war. While it may not be traditional to include all these names on veterans memorials, we believe it is important that they be included because they are the names of people who have been the very fabric of Montgomery Township and who have determined the nature and content of our community as we enter the third millennium.

Early in the third millennium the nature of Montgomery’s population has changed significantly. Along with our growth from around 10,000 people in 1990 to nearly 30,000 people today, we have become a much more transient community. In addition to our new retirement and assisted living communities, we also have developed a core population of younger and upwardly mobile families. These families are attracted by our proximity to a number of major corporate centers as well as by the outstanding reputation of our school system. Because of their upward mobility, many of these families move on in a relatively short period of time. While some of these residents may have served, they are more properly and traditionally recognized by their hometowns at the time they entered the armed forces or the merchant marine. The Montgomery Veterans Memorial Committee therefore believes that, beginning with the third millennium, it is appropriate to add to the Montgomery Veterans Memorial only the names of those who are Montgomery residents when they enter the armed forces or the merchant marine and who serve during times of war.

It is important to remember that our web site is intended to provide additional and appropriate information supporting the memorial. While we chose not to include on the memorial itself the names of those who, beginning with the third millennium, were not residents of Montgomery when their service began, we will include these names on our website. While this presents some administrative burdens as we could well have a significant number of veterans moving into Montgomery in any given year, these burdens are not insurmountable. In addition, a web site is much easier to correct and update than the granite stellae at the memorial.

The criteria listed above provide several significant advantages. First, we will always recognize the wartime service and sacrifice of those who brought Montgomery Township from its very beginnings to the third millennium. Second, we will always recognize those from Montgomery who enter the armed forces and merchant marine during future times of war. Third, and in keeping with our original goal, through the capabilities of our website we will always be able to recognize all the residents of Montgomery who have served our nation in times of war, without regard to whether or not they were Montgomery residents when their service began.

Background

 

The Montgomery Veterans Memorial Committee was formed in 1991 but remained essentially dormant until 2001. At that time, under the leadership of Chairman Jerry Cianfrocca, the committee was reactivated and began the task of creating an appropriate veterans memorial. One of the earliest tasks was to decide on an appropriate name for the Memorial. The committee decided on “Montgomery Veterans Memorial” with the intentional omission of an apostrophe. An apostrophe would indicate possession of the Memorial of or by the veterans, and the clear intent is that ownership of the Memorial is vested in the people of Montgomery for the purpose of honoring the veterans. Thus “Veterans” is plural and not possessive.

The first major accomplishment was to secure the services of Montgomery architect Thomas C. Lee who agreed to serve as architect and general contractor for the Montgomery Veterans Memorial pro bono. Mr. Lee explored various concepts with the committee, and developed the design as it exists today.

The next major accomplishment was to select an appropriate site for the Memorial. Initially, a small and gentle hilltop adjacent to Pike Brook and overlooking Montgomery Park from the south was selected by the committee. The site was approved by the Montgomery Township Committee, and detailed design work began.

Along with the detailed design work, Huguette Castaneda started a major effort to gather the names of those Montgomery veterans that would appear on the Memorial. To date, more than eight hundred and fifty names have been identified, with the largest group being from World War II.

Following completion of the detailed design, the committee sought formal construction bids in 2007. The initial construction bids exceeded the committee’s idea of an affordable price by a factor of more than three, so basic changes had to be made. Architect Tom Lee pointed out that moving the Memorial from the hilltop site overlooking Montgomery Park to a flat site would eliminate expensive details such as curved retaining walls, railings, and an entire lower plaza, while preserving the original design concept with its central, fundamental details. The committee is now certain that this change delivers an exceptional Memorial design that is affordable to the Montgomery community.

In 2007, after the selection of our initial hilltop site, Montgomery Township acquired from the State of New Jersey the former North Princeton Developmental Center site, which came to be known as Skillman Village. The township began an intensive effort to clean up and revitalize the site as a “Village Within a Park” that would become a gathering place and a major social, environmental, and economic asset of Montgomery Township. In February 2008, the Montgomery Veterans Memorial Committee appeared before the Montgomery Township Committee and requested permission to relocate the Memorial to an appropriate flat site within Skillman Village. This request was approved.

In late 2009, Montgomery Township decided to pursue the sale of Skillman Village to Somerset County. Assuming that the sale would ultimately be consummated, Architect Tom Lee began early in 2010 to look for other sites within Montgomery Township which might be appropriate for our Veterans Memorial.

After a great deal of study and evaluation, we decided that the very northern corner of Montgomery Park was the best possible choice for a new location. It is in a lovely grove of trees adjacent to the upper parking lot and sits high, offering lovely vistas of the park, which has been renamed Montgomery Veterans Park.  In October, 2010, we formally requested permission from the Township Committee to use that site, and permission was granted.