2013-08-28 / Front Page

Freehold Twp. volunteer was committed to trees

Staff Writer

George Klinger George Klinger FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — The township lost a dedicated volunteer who worked hard to preserve the municipality’s stock of beautiful trees when George Klinger died at home on Aug. 16.

Klinger, 78, was born in Oradell and was raised on his family’s farm in New Milford, Bergen County. He moved to Freehold Township in 1977.

He was a member of the Freehold Township Shade Tree Commission for 34 years and worked hard as commissioner, according to Thomas Ritchie, chair of the commission.

Ritchie, a certified tree expert, owns Thomas E. Ritchie Landscaping, Freehold Township.

“George worked hard to elevate Freehold Township to a wonderful level with all of our tree-lined streets,” Ritchie said.

He referenced Klinger’s desire to have Freehold Township chosen to host the New Jersey State Arbor Day celebration, and he achieved that goal in April 2011 when the state celebration was held at the Durand Park Memorial Arboretum.

Ritchie said Klinger planned and orchestrated the event despite dealing with health issues.

“It was one year in the planning,” he said. “We planted 150 trees at the arboretum that day. We knew how passionate George was about the project. He was well respected in the industry and he left a wonderful legacy in being a dedicated and hardworking volunteer.”

Township Committeeman David Salkin worked with Klinger on the Shade Tree Commission for 20 years.

“He was passionate about our trees in Freehold Township and he was a proponent of the Durand Park Memorial Arboretum,” Salkin said.

The 100-acre arboretum on Randolph Road was created more than a decade ago and was a project Klinger deeply believed in, according to Salkin, who said Klinger “worked very hard for Freehold Township, and he was a nice guy.”

Klinger’s dedication to preserving and caring for trees is evidenced by his long history of working on various boards and committees to protect trees.

In Salkin’s words, “Anyone in the tree world in New Jersey knew George Klinger.”

Klinger was a member of the New Jer- sey Shade Tree Federation, the New Jersey Community Forestry Council, where he was the 2001 recipient of the Joyce Kilmer Award, and the New Jersey Industrial Safety Committee, where he was the 11th Annual Green Community Achievement Award recipient in 2003, according to his obituary.

He was named Volunteer of the Year for the National Arborist Association in 2001 and was a member of the International Society of Arboriculture and a 30-year member of American National Standards Institute, a committee that deals with safety standards for tree care work.

Klinger was a U.S Army veteran of the Korean War and a safety engineer for Aetna Insurance, Parsippany, for more than 25 years, retiring in 1994. He also worked as a tree technician for Asplundh Tree Expert Company.

He was a parishioner and usher at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, Freehold Township, served on the Open Space Committee, and volunteered at the Oakley Farm and as a soccer coach for Freehold Township recreation and travel soccer.

Klinger was predeceased by two brothers, Herman Klinger Jr. and William Klinger. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Patricia; his children, George and his wife, Suzanne, of Wall Township, Lisa Marie of Fort Myers, Fla., and Kevin of Freehold Township; and his grandpuppy, Sierra.

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