Christian 11


John N. Surmay

December 17, 1936 ~ April 9, 2018 (age 81)

John N. Surmay

Husband, Father, Pharmacist, Public Servant

John Nicholas Surmay, age 81, passed peacefully in his sleep on April 9, 2018, at his home in Elizabeth, NJ. John was born in Tower City, PA, on December 17, 1936, and was the son of Mary and John Surmay. John’s father was a hard-working coal miner, and his parents encouraged him to attend college rather than work in the mines. After graduating from high school, John left home to live with his sisters Mary and Bertha in Elizabeth; his sister Bette followed. John worked numerous part-time jobs while attending Rutgers University College of Pharmacy, from which he graduated in 1959.

John had a distinguished career as both a public servant and licensed pharmacist. After working days at Elizabeth City Hall, he would work evenings and weekends at the pharmacy. He was the owner of The Prescription Service and co-owner of Lenzen’s Prescription Service, both in Elizabeth. He served as president of the Union County Pharmacists Association and treasurer of the NJ Pharmacists Association. His career as a pharmacist spanned over 47 years.

Additionally, John served under Mayor Thomas G. Dunn as Director of Health, Welfare & Housing for the City of Elizabeth from 1969 to 1992. During that time, he co-founded and served as president of the Union County Meals on Wheels, established the city’s Emergency Medical Services, directed the response to the nationally spotlighted Chemical Control explosion and developed the Senior Transportation of Elizabeth program. John also served as president of the Noise Control Association of USA, president of the NJ Health Officers Association, president of the Union County Health Officers Association, and president of the Union County Advisory Council on Aging. With all of his public involvements and associations, John was especially proud of his leadership role in strengthening the Sister City relationship between the City of Elizabeth and Kitami, Japan. After a brief turn in the private sector, John returned to City Hall in 1998 and served under Mayor J. Christian Bollwage as Health Officer until his retirement in 2013.

In recognition of his public service, John received numerous awards. Those most meaningful to him included the NJ Health Officers Association’s Frank J. Osborne Award for Meritorious Achievement in Public Health, NJ Pharmacists Association’s William H. McNeil Award for Outstanding Community Service by a Pharmacist, the NJ Geriatric Center Award for Lifetime Appreciation for Outstanding Service, the Catholic Community Service Award for Spirit of Volunteerism, the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals’ Bowl of Hygeia Award for NJ Pharmacist of the Year, and the Salvation Army Man of the Year Award.

John was a man of faith. He was a past member of Saints Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Elizabeth, where he met his wife, Louise, and current member of St. Thomas the Apostle Byzantine Catholic Church, Rahway, and St. Genevieve Roman Catholic Church, Elizabeth, where he was a Eucharistic Minister. He was a longtime member of the Holy Name Society and the Nocturnal Adoration Society and was on the Commission for the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops and the Public Policy Committee of the NJ Catholic Conference. John and Louise were members of the Metropolitan Choir, traveling to many different churches to sing.

John was predeceased by his parents John and Mary and by his siblings, Mary Babilya, Bertha Zamorski and Bette Nalepa. He is survived by his wife, Louise (Lisnock) Surmay; daughters Susan Surmay Wood and Kathryn Surmay Kenny; sons John M. Surmay and Gary L. Surmay; grandchildren Ethan, Abigail, Griffin, Lily, Ryan, Evan and Matthew; daughters-in-law Kari (Stemen) Surmay and Jennifer (Jankunas) Surmay; and sons-in-law Douglas K. Wood and Paul F. Kenny.

John found great pleasure in helping others. He enjoyed spending time on his computer emailing friends and family. John and Louise regularly attended performances at NJPAC, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. John cherished spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren, celebrating their achievements both large and small. His love for the City of Elizabeth, where he resided for over 55 years, was second only to the love of his family.

The Surmay family will welcome visitors on Friday, April 13, 2018, 2:00-4:00 and 7:00-9:00 pm. Parastas 7:15 pm. Funeral will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018, 8:00 am at Krowicki McCracken Funeral Home, 2124 E. St. Georges Ave Linden NJ 07036 (908) 352-9190. Divine Liturgy St. Thomas Byzantine Catholic Church, Rahway 9:00 am. Interment Fairview Cemetery, Westfield.

The family extends their sincere thanks to Homeside Hospice, Clark, NJ.

Donations in John’s memory may be made to one of the following organizations:

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