John Percy Van Zandt, Jr., 98
March 12,1924 – November 18, 2022
U.S. Army Veteran, WWII
John Percy Van Zandt, Jr., — a vital member of the Montgomery Township community for many years — died at age 98 on November 18 at Arbor Acres, a retirement community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Some consider John to be one of Montgomery's founding fathers. John served many terms as president of the Montgomery Township School Board, and he was instrumental in the school system’s growth. It is now one of the finest school systems in the state of New Jersey. He was the last surviving charter member of the Montgomery Fire Company, Station 46 in Blawenburg, which was founded in 1946. John was a deacon, elder, and longtime member of the Blawenburg Reformed Church. And, of course, John and his family operated J. Percy VanZandt and Company on County Route 518 (currently occupied by the Elks), as the main farm supply company in the area for many years. They sold mostly International Harvester farm and construction equipment.
After the business closed in 1969, John accepted a position in the NJ Department of Agriculture as director of rural resources. He managed the Farmland Preservation Act. He was perfectly suited for this position, and had an impact on the preservation of farmland throughout New Jersey and the nation.
Born on March 12,1924 in Elizabeth, he was the son of Helen Benedict and J.Percy Van Zandt, and brother to Betsy Adams and Edgar Van Zandt, all deceased.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 76 years, Martha Bergen Van Zandt and their four children and spouses: John (Jack) P. Van Zandt III and Joy of Winston-Salem, NC; Sally VZ Turk and Stephen of Providence, RI;, Richard (Dick) N. Van Zandt and Karen of N. Easton, MA; and Keith B. Van Zandt and Dede of Winston-Salem, NC. He was known as pop pop to his 14 grand and 27 great grandchildren.
After graduating from Somerville High School, John attended Cornell University. He joined the Army in 1944 and served with the Army Corp of Engineers during World War II; and was at Remagen on the Rhine River. After the war John returned to Cornell and earned a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Economics. He was also a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, where he forged lifelong friendships.
Martha and John lived on Broadview Farm in Blawenburg for many years. Besides nurturing and supporting his family, John was active in the Blawenburg Reformed Church, scouting, and school activities. It was a common sight to see John working in his large vegetable garden on summer evenings. Camping with their Airstream trailer and sailing his Sunfish with Martha were favorite pastimes.
After retirement John and Martha moved to Cape May. They spent wonderful years there enjoying all its seaside offerings. They especially enjoyed hosting their children and families. John was an active member of the Cold Springs Presbyterian Church, the Cape May Kiwanis Club, and the Water Resources board for West Cape May.
In 1998, John and Martha moved to Winston-Salem, NC to be near family. Meaningful friendships were made in their beloved Gables Community as well as their faith community Centenary UMC. John also remained involved in the Twin City Kiwanis Club activities. Arbor Acres had been their home since 2017, providing a loving and supportive community as well.
John’s memorial service will be held, Sunday, December 4, 2022 at 2 pm at Centenary UMC, Reverend Craig Ford officiating. John is loved very much and will be missed. He is definitely a member of the Greatest Generation.