In celebration of International Women's Month, the Ocean County Compendium of History presents the following notable women, whose work and efforts have promoted the furtherance of women's rights, and which have bettered the quality of life of our county and its people.
It gives us great pleasure to induct these ten women into this, the first class of the Ocean County Compendium Women's Hall of Fame for the year 2012.
Leah Mathis Blackman was the author of The History of Little Egg Harbor, Burlington County, NJ: From Its First Settlement to Present Time, and occasionally wrote historical sketches for the New Jersey Courier.
Blackman's work, although sometimes questioned but contemporary historians, gives us an excellent insight into the daily lives of those who lived in the southernmost region of the county.
Her obituary in the New Jersey Courier determined that she was was a "most estimable lady in character," so it is not surprising that she did so well in literary circles where it was clearly a man's world.
Jane Cunningham Croly, who went by the pseudonym, "Jenny June," was a journalist and social commentator on the subject
of women's rights. She was a forerunner of the modern women's right movement, and, like Leah Blackman, Croly was able to push past the glass ceiling to so often kept women from becoming successful in a man's world.
in Lakewood, and is buried there alongside her husband, David G. Croly, who was also an
advocate of women's rights, and a well known publisher of his own political
Croly was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1994.
Marlene Lynch Ford, is a graduate of Georgian Court College, earning her masters degree at Seton Hall Law School in 1979.
Ford twice served in the New Jersey State Assembly in 1984-1986 and 1990-1992, where she sponsored some 75 bills that were enacted into law. Many of those bills focused on important social issues, such as domestic violence, child protection, living wills and advanced medical directives, and civil rights concerning sexual orientation.
Governor James Florio nominated her as a New Jersey judge in 1992, where she served in both the civil and family division courts, appointed as Presiding Judge of the family division in 2006.
Marlene Lynch Ford was appointed as the first female Ocean County Prosecutor by Democrat governor, Jon Corzine in 2007, and continues to serve in that capacity as of 2012 under Republican governor, Chris Christie.
Hazel Frank Gluck has had perhaps one of the most successful careers of all of this year's inductees, having served as both New Jersey's Lottery Director in 1982, and as our state's Insurance Commissioner in 1985 under Governor Thomas Kean's administration.
Gluck's early success began in 1964 when she was chosen to head the Lakewood League of Women's Voters, and later being elected to that township's Board of Education. She was also a co-founder of the Head Start Program in Lakewood, after which Gluck moved into the area of county government as the first Ocean County Director of Consumer Affairs in 1973.
Gluck's success in those endeavors lead her in 1977 to a seat on the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, she being the first and only female to ever hold that position in the county's 162 year history, and one in which she served as its Director in 1978.
Moving again into the upper echelon of government, Gluck was elected in 1979 to the New Jersey Assembly.
In 2010, Hazel Gluck was named as the president of Community Investment Strategies, a real estate and building development company located in Burlington County.
In 1978, Marilyn Regina Kralik was integral to the team that put together the Ocean County section of the New Jersey Historic Sites Inventory, a tremendous project that eventually compiled hundreds of photographs and treatments of historic structures throughout the county. That work serves today as one of the most important surveys in the county's history, used on multiple levels of historic research.
Kralik's 1992 Doctorate dissertation, Buying Barnegat Bay: A Look at Developing Ocean County Shore Resorts Through the Eyes of Three Women, August 9, 1879, gave us a rare insight into life along the shores of Ocean County as seen by the women who lived there.
also collaborated with Ocean County Historian, Pauline S. Miller, that same year on a book highlighting the work of Ocean County artists.
This book, titled, A Century of Ocean County Art, outlined the importance of many forgotten artists who once lived and worked in Ocean County.
Marilyn Kralik has
served as Dean of Humanities at Ocean County College, and is currently a
Professor of Art History at that institution.
Elizabeth Waln Meirs Morgan was a vibrant and enthusiastic naturalist and historian who never let a day go by without digging for answers in her usual, quizzical way, looking for that elusive rare piece of flora, or that lost town in the Pinelands.
Morgan's environmental activism lead her to co-found the Forked River Mountain Coalition, a non-profit organization, that, according to its website, is a "grass-roots organization working to conserve,
maintain, protect and restore the natural, cultural, historical, recreational and other
resources of the Forked River Mountains."
As the "Pines Baroness," Elizabeth Morgan researched and wrote extensively on the Ocean County treasure known as the New Jersey Pinelands, preserving its history, and reminding us always of its importance to life, nature, and the ecology of our county.
Mildred Worth Potter was an early forerunner in Ocean County education, beginning her career in 1924 as a teacher, and serving for forty-two years in that capacity.
Her first assignment was a temporary classroom in Bayville over Butler's General Store, but she moved shortly after to the Bayville School Elementary School when it opened in 1927.
Mildred was reassigned to the Clara B. Worth Elementary School in the 1950s serving as a teaching principal from 1956 to 1959, and retiring from public service in 1967.
The H&M Potter Elementary School, located on Veeder Lane in Bayville, was named in her and her husband, Hilbert's, honor in 1974. Hilbert Potter served as the Berkeley Township Clerk for over thirty-five years, and was also on the township's Board of Education.
Mrs. Potter lived at her lifelong home she called Sugar Hill until her death at the age of 101 years in 2008.
Lettie E. Savage was the second woman from Ocean County elected to the State Assembly, and the first to be appointed to the position of Assistant Majority Leader, serving in that governmental body from 1940 to 1959.
During her tenure as an Assemblywoman, Savage lead the charge to give pay raises to teachers across the state, and sponsored legislation that created Barnegat Light House Park.
Lillian W. Robbins Thompson, known to everyone as "Lila," was the first woman from Ocean County to serve in the New Jersey State Assembly (1923-1925).
She gave Republican machine boss, Thomas A. Mathis, a run for his money when she nearly won the nomination in the 1924 state senate primary.
Thompson's loss to Mathis forced her out of politics, but she remained active in the Ocean County as a community leader, serving on several boards, including Paul Kimball Hospital and the Ocean County Library.
Lila Thompson died in 1933 in a car accident after suffering a heart attack while driving in Lakewood at the age of fifty-seven.
Her work as a leader and protector of women's rights was recognized in 1934, when the legislature named a section of Route 9 between Lakewood and Adelphia in her honor.
Clara B. Worth served as a teacher at the Bayville Elementary School after graduating from the State Normal School at Trenton, New Jersey in 1910.
In 1927, she witnessed some controversy when charges of racism were leveled against supervising Dover schools principal, Edgar M. Finck, who was accused of "chasing the colored children from the school grounds and had cursed at them."
A month earlier, members of the Ku Klux Klan had come to the school in "full regalia," and held a patriotic and religious ceremony in which a flag was given to the school, and passages were read from the Bible.
Teachers urged the students on as they were made to form a line, which then very ceremoniously broke through the circle of Klansmen who had gathered around the flagpole. Once inside, the students made a circle of their own and raised the flag, which, when unfurled, released several small flags that fluttered down to the children as gifts.
The controversy continued, making national headlines, until it was finally, but unfairly, resolved when a separate school for the African-American children was built in the then-segregated Manitou Park section of Berkeley Township.
Despite the problems of the time, Clara went on to serve Berkeley Township well, becoming one of the first female principals in Ocean County.
The Clara B. Worth Elementary School, which opened in 1963, was named in her honor.
Content copyright . Steven J. Baeli. All rights reserved
Please note that the Ocean County Compendium of History is not
affiliated with the Ocean County Historical Society