February 5, 2020

Princeton First Responder Remembered Fondly By Many Co-Workers, Friends

TIRELESS PUBLIC SERVANT: First Responder Robert Gregory, who passed away January 23, is being remembered as “a champion to his family and people he served so well,” and “the best person to have around during a crisis.” (Photo courtesy of Spezzi Funeral Home)

By Donald Gilpin

Robert G. “Bob” Gregory, Jr., director of Emergency Safety and Services for the municipality of Princeton and fire marshal for Princeton University who passed away on January 23, is being remembered affectionately and admiringly by many of his friends and co-workers.

Gregory, 57, who died at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, lived in South Brunswick for the past 20 years and was a longtime first responder in Princeton, South Brunswick, Kingston, and at Princeton University.

“For those of you who knew him, he was a wonderful man, the best person to have around during a crisis,” said Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert in calling for a moment of silence at last week’s Princeton Council meeting. “It’s really hard to think of this place without him. Our hearts are with his family.”

Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad (PFARS) President Mark Freda noted that Gregory served PFARS for five years, including a year as president. “Many of us knew him before that through his involvement with the Princeton Fire Department and of course in his role as director of Emergency Services for the town. Bob put in a lot of time and effort to help the people of Princeton and the different emergency services organizations he belonged to.”

Freda added, “Bob will be missed by many of us. Bob and I talked frequently, and it is very hard to grasp that he will no longer be there to talk to.”

The Princeton Police Department, in a Facebook tribute, described Gregory as “a tireless, selfless public servant. There was nothing Bob would not do for the Princeton Police Department, including but not limited to mentoring our own youth academy ‘recruit.’ Amidst our sadness, we will celebrate the life and work of Bob Gregory. And we will try to emulate the extraordinarily kind person that he was.”

Among the many Facebook reminiscences, Gregory was described as “one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and dedicated people I had the pleasure of knowing,” “a champion to his family and people he served so well,” “a trusted and good-natured public servant who was dedicated to the safety of our community,” “a first class professional in all that he was involved in,” and “one of the nicest guys you ever wanted to meet.”

One of his colleagues wrote, “You always felt better after talking with Bob.”

Gregory grew up in South River, where he was a member of Reliable Fire Service, then moved to North Brunswick, where he served as fire chief with North Brunswick Volunteer Fire Department, Company 3, before settling in South Brunswick. He earned a master’s degree from Cairn University.

Gregory is survived by his wife of 30 years Michele (Piatek) Gregory of South Brunswick; his parents Robert Sr. and Lucille Gregory of South River; and his brother Marc Gregory and wife Coleen of Edison.

Funeral services were held Thursday, January 30 at the Maliszewski Funeral Home in South River with burial following at Holy Cross Burial Park in South Brunswick.