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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Event Recap: Barbara Bennett Memorial Fund Event

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

By Jennifer Ersalesi

On May 26th, 2019, the town of Rutherford lost a special person: Barbara Bennett. She was an inspiration to many and her loss has impacted the town of Rutherford in many ways, as evidenced by the many memories fellow residents sent This is Rutherford shortly after her passing.

On July 25th, BCB Bank sponsored a special event to celebrate what would have been Barbara’s 61st birthday and to bring attention to the Barbara Bennett Memorial Fund, established by BCB Bank. In addition to organizing and hosting the fundraiser, BCB Bank also contributed $2000 to the Memorial Fund. Kathy Hansen, Branch Manager, told TIR, “We are very happy to honor Barbara with this Fund and this event.” TIR spoke with Barbara’s daughter, Keri Bennett Romano, about this particular evening, the Fund, and her mother’s legacy.

TIR: Why was the Barbara Bennett Memorial Fund created?

Keri Bennett Romano: The fund was created to honor the legacy of Barbara who was a lifelong resident of Rutherford with an unwavering commitment to the town. She volunteered countless hours to various organizations and committees.

Barbara worked in the Recreation Department for over 30 years where she touched generations of residents both young and old, and encouraged them to get involved, have fun, and make memories.

Barbara at the Annual Easter Egg Hunt

TIR: What was the goal of the fundraiser at BCB Bank on Thursday, July 25th?

KBR: July 25th was Barbara's birthday. Anyone who knew Barbara knew she loved birthdays and often celebrated others birthdays even when it wasn't their birthday because she felt people are usually happy when someone is singing "Happy Birthday." Our goal was to both celebrate her birthday and let people know about the memorial fund in her honor.

TIR: Approximately how many people do you think attended this event?

KBR: I would think around 125. People were dropping in throughout the evening.

TIR: How can people continue to donate to the Memorial Fund?

KBR: People can send money to:

Barbara Bennett Memorial Fund

Care of BCB Bank Rutherford

190 Park Ave

Rutherford NJ 07070

Playground at Tamblyn Field

TIR: What will the money raised be used for within the community?

KBR: I'm hoping the money will go towards a permanent place in town to keep her spirit alive for all the citizens of Rutherford to enjoy. I'd love the money to go towards a new playground at Tamblyn Field in her honor. I spoke to the Mayor and he said he likes the idea, but it's obviously a process to have a new playground approved and then to raise money. I was told the first step is to set up a committee to discuss the process and steps to determine the best way to memorialize her. So, this is all in just the beginning phases and obviously pending approval. I just feel it's a beautiful way to keep her legacy alive. Barbara worked in the Recreation Department and was always down at the parks. She also started her career as a Rutherford Recreation preschool teacher at the Tamblyn Civic Center. She is a St. Mary's alumni and this is one of the main fields that St. Mary's uses. I also believe that it is the oldest playground in town.

TIR: Why do you think it is especially important to honor Barbara and her positive influence on the town of Rutherford?

KBR: Barbara was the epitome of what it means to be a Rutherfordian. She loved Rutherford and loved being part of ALL the events, whether it was a game, parade, community service projects, fundraisers, etc. She loved it all! She taught my siblings and I (and I assume many other people) to make memories and have fun by getting involved in your community, whatever you consider that community to be. Whether it is a team, an organization, a school club, or in Barbara's case the entire town of Rutherford. She just couldn't get enough of being involved and giving back to this town.

Barbara organizing an event

After she passed, a community member was offering their condolences and told me that their family was sharing stories about Barbara and then quietly said, a piece of Rutherford is gone now. This statement will stay with me forever and it is part of the reason I'm hoping to have a permanent place for people to remember her legacy as being one of the best volunteers and community members to ever live in this wonderful town of Rutherford.

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