It’s a new year and a time for new beginnings. But as 2019 drew to a close the editors of U.S. 1 looked back at the noteworthy people who died during the preceding year. From business innovators and music makers to artists and academics, the profiles that follow were of people well known in the greater Princeton area but also regionally, nationally, and internationally.
The Business Leaders
Martin R. Siegel, December 17.
Martin Siegel joined his father as the second generation of his family to work at the heritage fine jeweler, Hamilton Jewelers. He was elected president of Hamilton in 1968 and was instrumental in growing the Hamilton brand and business through his creative and innovative merchandising and marketing initiatives.
Hamilton grew from a local store to a nationally recognized brand with clients from all 50 states and around the world. He continued to serve the firm as chairman from 1994 until his death, a role that allowed him to mentor hundreds of Hamilton employees.
He was among the first in the United States to order special Rolex timepieces from Switzerland with rare gem-set cases, bezels, and stone dials for the clientele in Palm Beach, Florida. And he discovered and launched many fledgling designers before “designer jewelry” was in fashion and before they became nationally recognized.
In keeping with the ways of his father, it was not uncommon for Siegel to assist a young person looking for an engagement ring, accept no payment, and with a handshake, allow the purchaser to leave the store with the ring and make subsequent payments “whenever they could do so.” Inevitably, he would gain a customer for life.
He also served and supported hundreds of local Mercer County organizations.
Frederick S. Withum, September 30, age 84.
In 1974 Withum and six partners founded a small accounting firm in Milltown, New Jersey. That firm — today known as WithumSmith + Brown — is now headquartered in Carnegie Center and, with more than 1,000 employees, ranks among the largest accounting firms in the nation.
Withum, who retired in 1987, was known for his belief in planning, and his firm was one of the first to hold annual strategic planning meetings.
A. Spencer Bruno, September 5, age 87.
After starting his career in marketing at Gallup and Robinson, the Bucknell University alumnus started his own company, Spencer Bruno Research Associates, in 1970. That company continues today as the Princeton Pike-based market research firm Bruno and Ridgway Associates.
His family was also among the founders of Windsor Chapel, and he served for many years on the board of Boheme Opera NJ.
William Bryce Thompson IV, June 12, age 87.
Thompson was known for having a big personality to match his sprawling land holdings, which included properties in Lawrence, Hamilton, Robbinsville, Bordentown, and the surrounding areas. Although his properties include a number of commercial buildings and several residences, he is best known for buying farmland and selling it to governments and nonprofit groups for land preservation. Some of his land holdings were sold to create part of Mercer County Park.
His maternal grandfather built a stately house at 195 Nassau Street along with several other buildings around downtown Princeton. The home is still in the family, and the lower level serves as the headquarters of Thompson Management, the company that Thompson founded in 1959.
After his family fortune was wiped out in the Great Depression, Thompson started from scratch and set out on an eclectic college career that spanned one semester each at the University of Alabama, Florida State, Florida Southern, Rider, the University of Miami, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the University of Miami, and Mexico City College. He never graduated.
A lifelong athlete, Thompson played numerous sports and loved “fast cars and fast women,” according to his obituary, which featured a photo of him doing a handstand on a moving bike. He said he played polo until age 72, when he was bucked and run over.
Thompson’s risk-taking ways extended to his real estate ventures. He was known to leverage his properties to the hilt in pursuit of amassing more land.
By 2008 he said he had owned 15,000 to 20,000 acres over his career, about 9,000 acres at a time.
Richard S. Plumeri, October 14, age 88.
After a fulfilling career in teaching, Plumeri entered the real estate business. He formed Richardson Realtor in 1960 and Richardson Commercial Realtor in 1980. He managed four offices in Mercer County and was a charter member of the Homes for Living Network. He was very active in community and social events as well as a participant in many golf events. He enjoyed the expression credited to Woody Allen: “90 percent of being successful is just showing up.”
Pillars of the Community
Herbert W. Hobler, August 10, age 96.
Hobler was an alumnus of Princeton University, Class of 1944, and served during World War II as an Army Air Corps navigator flying missions in Japan.
After finishing his military service he began a career in broadcasting in New York City and in 1963 founded his own firm, Nassau Broadcast Company, and launched his own radio station, WHWH. That station is still on the air as WPST.
In addition to involvement with class and alumni affairs at Princeton University, Hobler was also a fixture in the town. He served on numerous boards, including the Princeton YMCA, the Nassau Club, and the Hun School, and helped create the brick walkway in Palmer Square. He chaired Princeton Township’s 150th anniversary and helped create the Spirit of Princeton, a fund that, among other things, allows Princeton to host its annual Memorial Day parade.
A prolific walker, Hobler also wrote a book, “Waking, A Moving Experience,” first published in 1999.
Laura M. Wooten, March 24, age 98.
The Princeton resident was the longest-working poll worker in the country. A graduate of Princeton High School, Wooten retired from Princeton Medical Center at the age of 72 and was employed by Princeton University.
She served at the local, primary, and general polls in Mercer County on every election day from 1939 to 2018, never missing an election in 79 years. Many businesses in Princeton were still segregated when she began.
“Vote every time,” she told NBC News in a 2018 interview. “Let nothing and no one stop you because your vote is your voice. It’s the route — sometimes the very slow route — but, the only sure route, to change.”
Stuart Carothers, February 2, age 95.
He was associate director of the Princeton University Office of Research Administration, secretary and counsel of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and spent 15 years as executive director of Recording for the Blind, where he presided over the relocation of the national headquarters to Princeton and modernization of the master library production operation.
After his retirement from RFB, he founded the Princeton Area Community Foundation in 1991. To date, total PACF grant funding to not-for-profit service and educational organizations is approaching $150,000,000.
Adam Feldman, December 24, age 55.
Feldman, who for the past 14 years has served as rabbi at the Jewish Center of Princeton, died suddenly on a family vacation in Hawaii. In addition to his work with the Jewish Center, he was involved in the religious ministries of numerous community organizations, including the Princeton-Mercer-Bucks Jewish Community Relations Council, Princeton Medical Center, and Trinity Counseling Services.
Sol Libes, September 21, age 89.
Libes taught electronics at Union County Technical Institute for 25 years, where he eventually became a full professor.
While at UCC, he became interested in digital electronics and began experimenting with early consumer computers.
At age 43, he built his first computer. Determined to share his interest, he founded the Amateur Computer Group of NJ where he served as president for six years. When he retired, ACGNJ had 1,600 members and published a monthly 24-page newsletter.
With friend Al Katz, he co-founded the Trenton Computer Festival, the oldest and longest-running personal computer show. Both ACGNJ and TCF continue to this day.
Libes was a member of the professional association Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He served as a consultant on microcomputer design for several companies. He was a guest lecturer at many schools, conferences, and associations where he presented hundreds of talks on various aspects of computing. He wrote many magazine articles and for 16 years authored a monthly column in Byte, a popular magazine devoted to microcomputers. Together with his wife, Lennie, he created a magazine, Microsystems, and later another, Micro/Systems Journal. At their peak, the two magazines had a circulation of 60,000.
Elizabeth Reilly Moynahan, September 23, age 94.
Elizabeth Reilly Moynahan was an architect whose work included corporate office buildings, houses, schools, community buildings, housing for the elderly, barrier-free designs, a college library, and the compound for the Institute for Women’s Leadership located on the Douglass campus of Rutgers University.
In Princeton she remodeled a section of the Princeton University Library, and at the Institute for Advanced Study she pioneered a design for solar housing as early as the 1970s. She was active in historic preservation, including restoration of the Albert Einstein House. As an advocate for affordable housing, she was instrumental in creating Architects Housing, Eggerts Crossing Village Community Building and Offices in New Jersey.
She was married to Julian Lane Moynahan, a distinguished professor of English, poet, novelist, and literary critic.
She was a visiting professor of architecture at Rutgers and several other universities. She was a commissioner of the state Board of Architects and served as president for one year.
Kam Williams, May 30, age 66.
Williams was a Princeton-based film and literary critic and journalist who was a longtime reviewer for Town Topics. He was a recurring guest on the Howard Stern Show and interviewed celebrities including Quentin Tarantino, Denzel Washington, Mel Brooks, Russell Simmons, LeBron James, and former President Jimmy Carter, among others.
He published nearly 10,000 articles and reviews, many of them in the University City Review and the Philadelphia Free Press in a 22-year writing career.
He was born Lloyd Joseph Williams but went by “Kam” after famed jazz musician Sun Ra gave him the name “Kamau.”
Henry Horn, March 14, age 77.
Horn was an emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton. He joined the faculty in 1966, in what was then the Department of Biology, and in 1991 he became founding director of the Program in Environmental Studies.
He did his undergraduate work at Harvard, Class of 1962, and earned a Ph.D. at the University of Washington, where he studied the social behavior of blackbirds.
Among Horn’s interests were the growth of trees, in particular, how they got their shape and their branching patterns. He also studied the wind dispersal of seeds and forest succession, and he was fascinated by butterfly behavior. Over the course of his career he traveled the world for his research but used the natural resources of his hometown — including the Institute Woods and the woods along Washington Road — in much of his work.
In weekly walking tours, which he offered informally throughout his career and in his retirement, Horn shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for local ecosystems with students and colleagues. He also recorded videos of his frequent explorations as part of his Nature Walks series.
Horn was a singer, and he and his family regularly performed Medieval and Renaissance music in the community. He was a member of the Princeton University Chapel Choir, Musica Alta, and the Princeton Madrigal Singers.
Alan B. Krueger, March 15, age 58.
A well known economist and Princeton professor, Krueger served as an advisor under presidents Clinton and Obama. Krueger made groundbreaking contributions to the field of economics, including an influential 1993 study on the minimum wage.
His last book, published shortly after his death, was “Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics and Life.” In the prelude he writes about a speech he was invited to give at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which parallels the main theme of the book:
“I had been invited to speak because I had the idea of using the music industry as a metaphor to draw parallels with the U.S. economy — in particular, the financial struggles of middle-class families and the growing gap between the wealthy and everyone else. The key theme was that the U.S. job market had become a superstar, winner-take-all affair, much like the music industry, where a small number of top performers did fabulously well, while almost everyone else struggled to make ends meet.
“The speech used the term rockonomics — meaning the economic study of the music business — to explain why this was happening, what it means for everyday Americans, and what should be done to bring about a fairer economy that works for everyone.”
Icons of the Arts
Toni Morrison, August 5, age 88.
The 1993 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature had been a member of the Princeton University faculty in the creative writing program since 1989, retiring in 2006. Among her numerous world-famous novels are “Beloved,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988; “The Bluest Eye,” and “Song of Solomon.”
John Goodyear, August 14, age 89.
Goodyear was an artist whose work is displayed in more than 60 museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
In the 1950s Goodyear was painting his house when he was inspired to paint in three dimensions. In the following decades he experimented with works that were somewhere between painting and sculpture.
In the 1980s he began to create public artworks, beginning with an installation called “The Death of Socrates” for the New Jersey Arts Inclusion program. He went on to create many other works including at the State House in Trenton. He was chair of the visual arts department at Rutgers until his retirement in 1997.
Priscilla Snow Algava, April 23, age 79.
She was an artist known for her vibrant paintings and drawings of dancing women.
The first in her family to attend college, Algava graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in English and education and earned a master’s degree in studio art and art education from DePauw University.
She was active in local and regional art groups such as Art+10, the Art Station, Trenton Artists Workshop Association, the 3rd Street Gallery in Philadelphia, and many more. Having been offered a pop-up space to display her own work, she instead launched “Wondrous on Witherspoon,” which showcased the work of other local artists.
Peter Westergaard, June 27, age 88.
The Princeton resident was a composer, music theorist, and former professor of music at Princeton University. He wrote two operas, “Charivari” and “Alice in Wonderland,” as well as a string quartet and a number of vocal cantatas.
Born in Illinois, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Harvard and a master’s degree at Princeton University.
Joseph Flummerfelt, March 1, age 82.
Flummerfelt served for 33 years as director of choral activities and conductor of the Westminster Choir at Westminster Choir College. He retired from Westminster in 2004 but continued until 2013 as the director of choral activities for the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in Charleston, South Carolina.
His choirs have featured in 45 recordings, and he was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, with a win in 2004 for a New York Choral Artists recording.