Cedar Grove Recreation Director Ron Epp died Thursday, Aug. 7. He was 59.
With nearly a decade spent in the director position, Epp was known to everyone from members of the Township Council to local sports teams. Every person the Times reached out to said Epp was not only good at his job, but he also had great character.
“He was a dedicated employee and a longtime resident of Cedar Grove. He will be missed and hard to replace,” Cedar Grove Mayor Romeo E. Longo said.
Originally from Bloomfield, Epp moved to Cedar Grove in 1986 and worked as a supervisor with Westinghouse Electric before taking on the recreation director seat, according to an obituary from Shook’s Cedar Grove Funeral Home.
Cedar Grove Pool Manager Lou Manganiello had much to say about his late colleague.
“He was a great man and a great leader. He talked me in to being the town Santa Claus once,” Manganiello recalled. “I was hesitant at first, but for him I did it because he was the kind of guy you’d do things for.”
Manganiello said Epp would always describe himself as a “stubborn German,” preferring to keep the status quo of things such as the pool center walls, which were painted the same color every year.
The 59-year-old began his tenure in Cedar Grove as an assistant to Madeline Slattery, the previous recreation director, Manganiello said. After Slattery retired, Epp served as her replacement.
Those who worked alongside Epp said he was committed to his job.
High School Basketball Coach Bill Scanlon told the Times that being director was a difficult position because it involved running programs and the town pool.
Leading the recreation department was a demanding position that involved answering to a lot of different people, Scanlon said. The coach referenced Epp’s work ethic and modest tendencies, noting he wasn’t ever looking for accolades.
“Honestly, I feel we have the best pool in Essex County and that’s mostly due to Ron,” Manganiello said, adding that Epp always monitored the upkeep of the pool for the staff.
While Epp spent much of his time at the pool, it was not the only area he devoted his time. As director of recreation, Epp was involved in basketball, football, tennis and more.
“Anything that was going on at the courts, if I asked him, he just jumped on it right away. On top of everything,” High School Tennis Coach Bob Dunn said.
But outside of all he accomplished in his career, his colleagues made sure to comment on his first two loves: his family and his township.
“He’d do anything for you. Seeing him as a parent, he did anything for his kids,” Dunn said.” It’s a loss. It’s a loss for the town.”
Epp is survived by his wife, Phyllis; and his children, David and Jacqueline.
Services for Epp will be held Monday, Aug. 11 at Shook’s Cedar Grove Funeral Home on 486 Pompton Ave. The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. and will be followed by a private cremation.
Visitation will be held Sunday, Aug. 10 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Catherine of Siena Church Heritage Fund, 339 Pompton Ave., Cedar Grove.
Additional reporting by Chris Leyden, the Times’ sports editor.