A fixture on the Manchester community landscape reaches the end of his long, illustrious road. Former Councilman Kenneth Vanderzeil died Wednesday at age 93, according to township spokesman Greg Kyriakakis.

(L-R) Manchester Township Councilmen Warren Reiter, Kenneth Vanderziel, Mayor Michael Fressola, and Councilman Fred Trutkoff, all now retired, in 2013 (Greg Kyriakakis)

Information from the township follows:

"It is with deep regret that Manchester Township announces the passing of Retired Councilman Kenneth Vanderziel at the age of 93 on December 21, 2016.

Following an accomplished career with Union Pacific, the IRS, and as a self-employed tax accountant, Mr. Vanderziel found a new calling in retirement; he proudly served his community for many years as a Manchester Township Councilman.

"We appreciate Ken's years of service and his commitment to Manchester Township," said Mayor Kenneth Palmer, who ordered flags to fly at half-mast at the Municipal Complex in honor of Mr. Vanderziel.

Mr. Vanderziel was born on April 7, 1923, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he began a long career with Union Pacific Railroad. Mr. Vanderziel proudly served his country as a U.S. Marine for four years beginning in 1942, and was deployed to the South Pacific during World War II from 1943 to 1945. For his service, Mr. Vanderziel, who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima, received four Bronze Stars, two Presidential Unit Commendations, a Navy Unit Commendation, and other honors.

Mr. Vanderziel and his family moved to Summit, NJ, in 1963, and after rising through the ranks at Union Pacific he retired from his position as Assistant Treasurer in 1978. He then worked as an IRS Auditor from 1979-1982, and later started his own business doing individual tax returns until 1984.

Following his retirement from the private sector, Mr. Vanderziel turned his attention to serving Manchester Township, where he and wife Mary Louise moved in 1984. Justifiably skeptical of the Township's finances at the time under disgraced Administrator Joseph Portash, Mr. Vanderziel kept a close eye on the local government and won a Council seat in 1990 as a member of the Stop Tax Oppression Promptly group.

"Ken was very knowledgeable about life, city government, and he told me how to be a good Councilman and how one should govern," said current Council President James Vaccaro. "I patterned my personal life, and my terms as a Councilman, following Ken's advice and principles in ethics and finance. Ken was my mentor and he surely will be missed. I would call him periodically just to talk and keep him updated, and I will miss doing so. "

Mr. Vanderziel proudly served as Councilman from 1990 to 2000, and after taking time off to tend to family, returned to public service by winning re-election in 2004. He served on the Council until his retirement in 2011.

"I had the honor of serving with Councilman Vanderziel for 13 years. He was a member of the original Council members elected after the Manchester change of government in 1990, and served as our first Council President," said current Council Vice President Sam Fusaro. "Ken has a deep passion for Manchester and worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all of our residents. He was a role model for all our entire elected officials to follow."

A memorial service for Mr. Vanderziel will be held after the New Year, date to be determined."

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