Education was priority for retiring freeholder


Staff Writer

Harry Larrison Jr.’s unparalleled legacy will revolve around growth and the quality of life in Monmouth County.

One hundred years from now that is what people will read about the Monmouth County Republican freeholder who resigned on Dec. 2 after almost 39 years on the board — the longest serving freeholder in the history of New Jersey.

Larrison said his ongoing fight against cancer prompted him to step down one year before the end of his present term. He has served as the board’s director since 1974, except for a period of six years when the board was controlled by Democrats. He has served continuously as the board’s director since 1986.

During Larrison’s watch on the governing body, Monmouth County has been one of the fastest growing areas in the state as it has practically been transformed from an agricultural section into virtual suburban communities of New York and Philadelphia.

The county has been front and center in such areas as education, preservation of open space, establishing a comprehensive park system, building a reclamation center in Tinton Falls, constructing the Manasquan Reservoir, establishing a ferry system and obtaining an AAA bond rating.

“My biggest thrill in life has been to help people,” Larrison said. “I have always had an irrevocable love for people. Often people ask me how I got interested in politics. As a young man in 1947, I joined the Ocean Grove First Aid Squad and later the Ocean Grove Fire Company. I found that I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping people and I still do.”

Larrison still operates the Larrison Coal and Fuel Oil Co. in Neptune, the family business that he took over from his grandfather, John Larrison, in 1958.

“As I look back on my years of service I can honestly say that I am proud of the many accomplishments of this board and the part I played in seeing them successfully completed,” Larrison said Thursday when he officially announced his resignation. “I must share any credit with all the freeholders who served with me over the years. Politics was put on the back burner when it came to improving the quality of life in Monmouth County.”

His fellow freeholders heaped praise on their departing colleague and leader.

Thomas J. Powers, Wall Township, Larrison’s running mate in his last eight elections, is one of those who will miss him greatly.

“I think we’ll all miss him a lot,” Powers said, “but I know he’ll be thinking about county government long after he retires. He’s devoted 39 years to Monmouth County, and in that time Harry has left his footprint on so many important things — Brookdale Community College, the Belford Ferry Terminal and the county reclamation center, just to name a few. He’s a great freeholder.”

Freeholder Ted Narozanick, Freehold Borough, who was elected to the board of freeholders in 1985 and served as a key county official for 27 years before that, also had praise for his departing colleague.

“It is certainly the end of an era,” Narozanick said. “For almost 39 years he has been our leader. He has really been mainly responsible for many of the creative innovations that have made our county a much better place in which to live. He has been a great leader with a vision, the dedication and the concern and energy to make this vision come true. Each of us in his own way is wishing him the best.”

Many honors have been heaped upon Larrison over the years. Two of the most recent honors bestowed upon him include one from Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, which named a new 100,000-square-foot building Larrison Hall, and the Monmouth Council of Boy Scouts which conferred its Joshua Huddy Award on the venerable freeholder in recognition of his dedicated service to the youth of the county.

“Throughout my years I often said that education was one of my highest priorities,” Larrison said. “That wasn’t just a campaign slogan, but a strong conviction. So it should come as no surprise to learn that I look back fondly at the extraordinary success of Brookdale Community College, the county’s vocational schools and the county library system as the brightest jewels of my career. They are investments in the future of our children and our children’s children that will pay dividends for many, many years to come.”

It seems safe to say that Harry Larrison Jr.’s legacy of achievements aimed at improving the quality of life in Monmouth County will also stand for generations to come.