October 7, 2020

Obituaries 10/7/2020

Roy “Murf” Higgins

It is with broken hearts that our family announces the passing of Roy “Murf” Higgins. Murf died peacefully on October 1, 2020. He was 87.

Born at home on June 11, 1933 to the late Leroy and Florence Higgins, Murf has been a lifelong resident of Belle Mead. When he was six years old, his family moved to Overbrook Oaks on Mountain View Road, where he proudly remained for the last 81 years.

Murf attended Somerville High School where he met the love of his life, Carol Amerman. After high school, he attended Lehigh University graduating in 1956 with a BS in Business. He and Carol married in 1959 and spent 61 years happily building their family and being active in their community.  

Murf was the President and owner of the Belle Mead Garage his entire life. Having won Chrysler’s highest recognition for customer service for 30+ years, Murf was truly recognized as one of Lee Iacocca’s “Good Guys.”

Known for his love of Belle Mead, Murf was active in the community. He served as Deacon and Elder at the Harlingen Reformed Church; he was a member of Belle Mead Rotary; he was on the Advisory Board of the First National Bank of Central NJ; he served as treasurer during his tenure on the Harlingen Cemetery Association; was a member of the board of directors for the Belle Mead Co-op; and he was a former member of Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department #1.

In his spare time, Murf loved caring for his sheep and cows on the farm, sitting on the deck looking out at Lake Champlain with Carol at their camp in Vermont, and taking his kids and grandkids out to dinner, always insisting on paying the bill.

He is predeceased by his sister Barbara McLachlan who passed away in 1998. Surviving Murf is his devoted and loving wife, Carol; sons Jon (and wife Tracy), Christopher (and wife Becky), daughters Amy, and Bonnie (and husband Tom Sullivan); six grandchildren, Christopher, Michael, Joseph, Jessica, Ryan, and Benjamin; one great-grandchild, Nicholas; and nephew Morgan McLachlan III and niece Leigh McLachlan.

Graveside services were on Monday, October 5, 2020 at the Harlingen Reformed Church Cemetery, Route 206 in Montgomery. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made “in memory of Roy Higgins” to the New Jersey Farm Bureau, 168 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608 or to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, directed to the COVID Relief Fund, 1480 US Highway 9 North, Suite 301, Woodbridge, NJ 07095.

To send condolences to the family, please visit brucecvanarsdalefuneralhome.com.


Leon Joseph Christen

On September 16, 2020, Leon Joseph Christen, loving husband and father of three, passed away at the age of 93.

Leon was born in Princeton, New Jersey to Joseph and Marie Louise Christen. He enlisted in the Navy in April, 1945 and served in the Naval Amphibious Forces in the South Pacific. Upon return from the military, he matriculated at Princeton University where he graduated cum laude in 1949 with a B.S. in engineering and went on to receive his M.B.A. from Columbia University in 1952. He married Rosemarie Simone in 1953. After starting his career in New York City, they moved to Canada where Leon worked for an international insurance brokerage firm.

In 1960, they returned to Princeton and Leon took over the family business, Lahiere’s Restaurant. Lahiere’s was a Princeton institution and family run for 91 years. Among its many accolades was the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award. Leon built the restaurant into an iconic gathering place for generations of Princeton families, students, faculty members, and the occasional celebrity. He delighted in sharing his love of food and wine not only with his family, but with everyone he met.

Upon retirement, Leon and Rosemarie moved full time to their beloved home in Mantoloking. There, Leon enjoyed boating, fishing, model ship building and, of course, great food and wine. He will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, and grandfather with a great sense of humor and a silly joke to tell. He is survived by Rosemarie, his wife of 67 years, his children, Caroline Boucher and husband Peter of Edwards, Colorado, Michele Antoniewicz and husband Ron of Jupiter, Florida, and Joseph Christen and wife Jill of Princeton, New Jersey, and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will take place at a future date. Memorial contributions may be made to Wall Township First Aid and Rescue Squad, PO Box 1105, Wall Township, NJ 07719. Arrangements are under the direction of Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.


Anita M. Tocco

Anita M. Tocco (Nina) 61, of Columbus, NJ, passed away on Monday, April 20, 2020 after losing her five month battle with cancer, surrounded by her two loving friends Barbara and Kim.

Born in Princeton, Nina attended Stuart Country Day School and graduated from Princeton High School. Early in Nina’s life it was apparent that Nina had a great talent for music. She could play multiple instruments, but it was the piano that took Nina to another level. Growing up Nina pursued her passion, winning many awards and accolades from her competitions. At first, she pursued music at Trenton State College but after the tragic loss of her beloved father, Nina lost that passion to perform and put aside that part of her life.

She became a rural carrier for the U.S. Postal Service of Princeton and Wrightstown where she also became involved as a state steward in the Union which took her around the country for various meetings and other duties. She also was part of a pilot program designed for training and promoting the Postal Service for which she received awards in excellence prior to her retirement with 35 years of service.

Besides music, Nina was a lover of sports and played basketball, soccer and softball in school and leisure, always with a competitive edge. In her later years she liked gardening, dining out with friends and traveling. This was usually to warm climates with beaches. Nina had a generous nature that extended itself to her love of cats. As a crazy cat lady she had up to six cats at a time periodically, leaving behind three of her beloved felines. And known only to a few she had a beautiful singing voice.

She is predeceased by her parents Santo and Anne (Fiumenero) Tocco and survived by three brothers Ronald (Karen), Santo, and John Tocco and also two nephews, Michael and Jonathan, plus decades of friends.

She has been cremated and a memorial service will take place on Thursday October 8, 2020 from 7-9 p.m. at Mather Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton, NJ 08540. Due to Covid restrictions it will be by invitation only; those interested call Kim at (609) 335-4251. Interment will be in Princeton Cemetery, 29 Greenview Avenue, Princeton, NJ 08540 on October 9, 2020 at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to local shelters, animal rescues, or the ASPCA.


Martha Hinman Vaughn

Martha H. Vaughn, 85, died peacefully Monday morning, September 28th, at her home, surrounded by family.

Photographer, world traveler, volunteer, singer, and sportswoman — Martha had many passions and avocations. She was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. Those who knew Martha were always happy to be in her orbit — and she in theirs.

Born and raised in Binghamton, NY, to Barbara and George Hinman, a longtime political advisor to Nelson Rockefeller, Martha graduated from Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA, and Wheaton College in Norton, MA. 

She met the love of her life in her early 20s while working in New York City for Mutual of New York and Readers Digest, catching a ride with him to the slopes of Vermont. In 1958 she married George “Arky” Vaughn III, an engineer from Staten Island, NY, working with Alcoa Inc. The newlyweds moved in 1959 to the Philadelphia Main Line, where she was a member of the Junior League of Philadelphia and stayed busy as a young mother.

Martha and Arky moved to Princeton in 1965 where they raised their three daughters, Barbara, Susan, and Phoebe. Martha immersed herself in the community, volunteering with many local and regional organizations including McCarter Theatre, The Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum, Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Hospital, NJ Neuropsychiatric Institute, Planned Parenthood, and others. She served for many years on the boards of Princeton Symphony Orchestra, The Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum, and McCarter Theatre.

Indefatigable, Martha had a zest for life and seized every opportunity to spend time with her family and large circle of friends. She was a creative and prolific hostess. Wanderlust was in her veins: Martha planned and took trips to exotic destinations across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, as well as Bermuda, where the Vaughn’s bought a house in 1978. Bermuda became a beloved second home for them.

Travel sparked Martha’s creativity, and, in her mid-life, she embarked on a career as a fine art photographer, which gave her much joy and fulfillment. She had a keen eye for color, light, and abstraction and found inspiration on her many trips overseas. Her work was exhibited in many venues including the NJ State Museum, the National Arts Club (NYC), the Bermuda National Gallery, and the Masterworks Foundation (Bermuda). She published a book of her photographs, Of Time and Place, in 2013.

Martha, along with Arky, also found great joy in singing, which was part of her life from early on. Martha was founder of the Witherspooners, a singing group that performed in Princeton in the late 1960s and early 1970s that performed in regional a cappella gatherings up and down the East Coast.

Other pursuits and passions included sports (tennis, golf, skiing), politics (member of the Off the Record Lecture Series of The Foreign Policy Association, NY), gardening, and membership at a variety of clubs in Princeton, Bermuda, and New York City.

Martha is survived by her husband, George, and three daughters, Barbara Vaughn Hoimes of San Francisco and New York City, Susan Vaughn (O’Brien) of Los Angeles, and Phoebe Outerbridge of Pennington, NJ, and their husbands; six grandchildren: Alexander Hoimes, Bailey and Whitney Outerbridge, and Owen, Lucie, and Finn O’Brien; a sister, Virginia Hinman Cummings along with her husband Dr. Harland Cummings, and brother, Harvey Hinman along with his wife Peggy Hinman; and many nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her sister Constance Getz.

A private family service took place at her home; a virtual remembrance for friends and family will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers the family requests that any gifts in Martha’s honor be made to HomeFront and Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater Northern NJ.