Relatives, friends, LBI residents and even shore dwellers who never knew Surf City Mayor Leonard T. Connors, Jr., but benefited from his ideas, pause to mark his passing at age 87.

Leonard T. Connors, Jr. (courtesy Jason Smith)

The onetime state Senator for the shore's Ninth Legislative District was surrounded by family Sunday night, according to information from the office of his son, state Senator Chris Connors.

A funeral mass will be offered Friday, December 9, 2 PM, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 4700 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach Township.

In addition to a nearly half-century as Surf City's leader, Connors served in the state Legislature from 1981 until 2007, and occupied a seat on the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders for two terms beginning in 1977.

Connors also served as a director of the National Assoication of Coastal Mayors and for the United Way.

An astute judge of character, a man who, in his youth, built many of the houses that still stand on Long Beach Island, and a remarkably down-to-earth individual, Connors bore special sensitivity to the needs of seniors, and those with physical, emotional and mental challenges.

He co-founded Ocean County's first Commission on Hanicapped Persons, and wrote the 2005 law that improves voting-place accessibility.

Connors also authored the state law that gave nuclear-plant security guards access to semi-automatic weapons, a direct outgrowth of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The 16-year-old requirement for criminal background checks on all certified nurse aides, personal care assistants, and homemaker-health aides originated with Connors, as did the 1995 measure that removed unnecessary state mandates from municipal operations.

During New Jersey's fiscal crisis under the Jon Corzine administration, Connors famously demanded that the Legislature remain in session through its summer break to resolve it, and drafted the measure that would have recovered revenues by reducing the state payroll.

Senator Chris Connors, and Assembly members DiAnne Gove, and Brian Rumpf, issued remarks. Said Connors:

“Words cannot express adequately how profoundly saddened I am by the loss of my father, mentor and best friend.  My father was a man of large stature, both physically but more importantly in the minds of those who knew him,  who possessed a sharp intellect, a tireless work ethic, sound judgment and an unwavering sense of obligation to those who put their trust in him.  

“At the same time, I take comfort in the knowledge that my father led a remarkable and fulfilled life and left this world with absolutely no regrets.  He was a tremendously successful businessman and highly effective public servant who earned the respect of almost all who knew him.  My father will be terribly missed by those who knew him and he will be remembered for who he was: a great man.”  

Rumpf added:

“Len Connors was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and statesman in every sense of the word.  He was also a good friend and mentor whose advice I consistently sought and relied upon in light of his extensive experience and effectiveness in public service.  

“Always, Len was guided by a moral compass that put people before politics.  He, therefore, never hesitated to cross party lines or disagree with his own party when it meant acting in the best interest of his constituents.  

“By being straightforward and responsive, he was able to connect with and earn the trust of so many people.  For these and a host of other compelling reasons, Len will always be held in the highest regard by those who had the privilege of knowing him.” 

From Gove, a onetime Beach Haven Mayor:

“Consistently, Len Connors displayed incredible leadership in bringing people together for the common good.  At his core, I always thought of Len as a small town mayor because he genuinely loved his community and believed very strongly that government worked best when it stayed close to the people. 

“No constituent matter was ever too small for him to give his personal attention to because behind Len’s tough exterior was a very compassionate man, with a clear sense of right and wrong, who helped people in any way that he could.  These noble attributes rightfully earned Len the enduring respect of his colleagues and constituents. 

“Unquestionably, Len leaves behind a tremendous legacy of service and kindness that we should all aspire to.” 

During the December 2016 edition of "Ask The Senator" on WOBM-AM, Chris Connors briefly expounded on the experience of growing up on Long Beach Island, and his father's influence on his career path:

You're invited to share your recollections on the WOBM Facebook page.

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