Ralph G. Engelsman, Former Mayor of Madison
Friday, June 1, 2012 • 9:19am
Ralph Engelsman, former mayor of Madison and an active public citizen, died on May 24, 2012 in Amherst, MA while attending his 60th Class Reunion at Amherst College.
He was born February 4, 1930 in New York City. He graduated from the Landon School in 1948 and Amherst College in 1952. Ralph went through Naval OCS and served as a deck officer on the USS Harold J. Ellison for two years. Following in his father’s footsteps he entered the life insurance business in 1956 with MONY and then Mutual Benefit Life Insurance. In 1972 he established an independent consulting firm, Engelsman Associates, from which he retired in 1998.
Ralph became active in Madison politics in the mid sixties. A lifelong Democrat, he was appointed to the Borough Council in 1986 and was elected Mayor in 1987. He served as Mayor from 1988 through 1991. During his tenure he established a Committee on the 1990’s to examine what might be improved and to plan for the future. He also introduced an annual planning meeting and a New Comers Night, and provided medallions to volunteer citizens who served five or more years working for the Borough. He was proud of negotiating a settlement with the DEP regarding a Madison-Chatham sewer plant.
Other civic activities included being president of the Green Village School PTO in 1965; serving as chair of the Madison Florham Park Human Relations Council in the late 1960’s; serving on the Madison Recreation Committee in the 70’s; service on the Board of Trustees at Cheshire Home and on the Playwright’s Theatre of NJ. After serving as Mayor, he was Chairperson of Madison’s Downtown Development Commission, and served on the Madison’s Housing Authority for seven and a half years.
For twenty years, he was actively involved on the Board of Morris Tomorrow, working to improve shared services, visioning and diversity questions with that organization. He felt his involvement with Family Service of Morris County was a capstone in his life. He was President of the Board of Managers in 2001-2002, during which time the organization decided to buy property on which a new headquarters was built. He was made an Honorary Manager in 2004.
Ralph loved playing tennis and platform tennis at the Morristown Field Club, where he was a member for more than 40years. He was an active Rotarian for 18 years, president of the Madison Club in 1997, and a Paul Harris Fellow. He led Rotary exchange trips to Japan and Brazil. A loyal alum of Amherst College, Ralph worked on planning reunions and was the primary editor for the Class of 52’s 50th and 60th reunion books, and served as Class President, Vice President, Secretary, and Reunion Program Chair over the years.
Ralph was predeceased by his wife Joan LePage Chamberlain who died in 2001 and his brother Alan Engelsman. He is survived by his chum, Sally Epstein; his two sons Marc Engelsman and Daniel Engelsman; Dan’s wife Susan and five grandchildren -- Robertson, Joshua, Anna, Alison, and Patrick Engelsman.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Family Service of Morris County http://www.fsmc.org/. In accordance with Ralph’s wishes, a Memorial Cocktail party will be held on Thursday, June 7 at The Madison Hotel 1 Convent Road Morristown, N.J. from 4-7 pm.