November 9, 2022

Obituaries November 9, 2022

James H. Litton

James H. Litton, 87, of Lawrenceville died Tuesday, November 1, 2022 at Brighten Gardens of Florham Park in Florham Park, New Jersey, due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Born in Charleston, West Virginia he resided most of his life in Lawrenceville, NJ. James was an internationally acclaimed choral conductor and educator, renowned for teaching young people how to sing. Recognizing his talent and passion for music, his parents found a way to buy him a piano and to pay for piano lessons at the Mason College of Music and Fine Arts in Charleston. His piano teacher encouraged him to progress to the organ, finding him a position as his assistant organist at a local church to get him access to an instrument for practice. That teacher later convinced him to pursue his college studies at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, to study under Dr. Alexander McCurdy. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music, and continued postgraduate studies at Canterbury Cathedral in England with Dr. Allan Wicks.

His choral music career spanned over 60 years, serving as organist, choirmaster, and music director at the American Boychoir School, Washington National Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s Church (New York), Trinity Church (Princeton), Christ Church Cathedral (Indianapolis), and Trinity Episcopal Church (Southport, CT). He also served as organist at several churches during his graduate and undergraduate studies at Westminster Choir College (now of Rider University) and while in high school. James toured with his various choirs and led choral festivals worldwide. He prepared his choirs for performances of major works with many of the world’s outstanding orchestras, and for several dozens of recordings, including a track with the American Boychoir on a platinum album by Michael W. Smith, Go West Young Man. An accomplished organist, James played organ concerts throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Asia.

He was an assistant professor of organ and head of the church music department at Westminster Choir College and the C. F. Seabrook Director of Music at Princeton Theological Seminary. He also served as visiting lecturer at Virginia Theological Seminary and at Sewanee: The University of the South.

A Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music, James was awarded honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the University of Charleston and from the Westminster Choir College of Rider University. The Litton-Lodal music directorship of the American Boychoir School was endowed by a gift from Jan and Elizabeth Lodal in honor of his career.

As a member and vice chairman of the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Church Music, he participated in the preparation and publication of the Episcopal Hymnal, 1982. He was also the editor of the Plainsong Psalter for the Episcopal Church.

James was a co-founder and former president of the Association of Anglican Musicians, which was founded in 1966 and continues to thrive today. He also founded many choral ensembles in West Virginia, Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey, and New York.

James met his beloved late wife, Lou Ann, in the seventh grade in Charleston, West Virginia, brought together by their mutual love of music. They married after graduating from college in 1957. Married for almost 55 years, Jim and Lou Ann enjoyed vacations and tours with the many choral groups he led throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Their four children were born in Southport, CT, and Indianapolis, IN, and grew up in Lawrenceville, NJ. Cherished family memories include long drives to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the family station wagon and a trip to Maine and the maritime provinces of Canada in a rented RV. Family trips often included stops to see organs in churches miles out of the way of the stated destination. James was a resident of Lawrenceville for more than 50 years, before moving to Hightstown, NJ, and then to Florham Park, NJ.

Son of the late J. Howard and Bessie Blue (Binford) Litton, he is predeceased by his beloved wife Lou Ann. He was a very devoted caregiver for Lou Ann as she fought her own battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is also predeceased by his son-in-law James Purdon, and his brother-in-law William Ray. James is survived by his son Bruce Litton and his daughter-in-law Patricia of Bedminster, NJ; his daughter Deborah Purdon of Maplewood, NJ; his son David Litton and his daughter-in-law Carol Dingeldey of West Hartford, CT; and his son Richard Litton and daughter-in-law Alysia of Wall Township, NJ; sister Betty Ray of Charlottesville, VA; and grandchildren Matthew Litton of Costa Mesa, CA, Kiersten Litton of Asbury Park, NJ, and Kyle Litton of Hoboken, NJ.

A Visitation will be held on Friday, November 11, 2022 from 6-8 p.m. at the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.

The Funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 12, 2022 at the Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street, Princeton. A reception in the church social hall will follow the service.

The committal will take place at a later date at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in the village of Litton in Somerset County and the Diocese of Bath and Wells in England.

The family would like to thank his excellent caregivers and the staff at Meadow Lakes, Always Best Care, and especially Brighton Gardens of Florham Park for their attentive and loving care of Jim.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Association of Anglican Musicians James Litton Grant for Choral Training ( and the Alzheimer’s Association (


Melva Gage Madsen
April 27, 1937 – September 19, 2022

Beloved “Aunt Mel” to three generations of nieces and nephews, and dear friend to many more, Melva Frances Gage Madsen passed away at age 85 in Plainsboro, NJ, after an extended illness. She was born April 27, 1937 to Laurence and Fern (Moss) Gage in the kitchen of their Brookfield Twp. farmhouse. After graduating from the one-room Cordial Grade School and Ottawa High School, she earned a BS in Commercial Teaching from the University of Illinois in 1959 and later, her Master’s from Indiana University.

Melva taught typing and shorthand for two years at Saybrook Arrowsmith High School, Saybrook, IL, and three years at Dixon High School in Dixon, IL. Later she worked as an Executive Assistant for 27 years at the Arthur Andersen international public accounting firm. Finally, Melva transferred for four years to Andersen’s Consulting Division (now known as Accenture) from which she retired in 1999.

In retirement Melva enjoyed flower arranging in which she had excelled as a teen in the Brookfield 4-H Club. For 60 years she provided organ accompaniment for weddings and congregations, including McKinley Church on the U of I Campus, Brookfield Presbyterian Church until it closed in 1975, and the Congregational Church in Marseilles for 10 years until 2009.

Simultaneously, while remaining single, Melva was a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Illini chapter, serving two terms as Regent. She was also a music aficionado and sports fan, holding season tickets for 30 years to Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts and University of Illinois football and basketball games.

At her 50th U of I class reunion in 2009, life changed when Ed Madsen, a classmate she had not seen for 50 years, invited Melva to a dinner date. Regaling in happy memories, including their first date attending a Louis Armstrong concert in 1957, embers of romance were rekindled.  Before the weekend was over, Ed coaxed her to his side at the piano while he played and sang his original composition.  He began with the words “Oh give me an Illinois Girl,” and ended with “Melva, will you marry me?”  Time and again when this story has been retold, someone exclaims: “There is still hope!”

Married in 2010, their 50-year “whirlwind romance” was capped with 12 joyful years of marriage. Living mostly at Ed’s home in Princeton, NJ, their travels included honeymooning in Denmark, and a memorable road trip to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming as well frequent holiday visits with Ed’s family  at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT.

Melva was predeceased by her parents and two brothers, Laurence “Larry” F. (Ruth) Gage and Robert L. (Doris) Gage.  She is survived by her husband, Edgar B. Madsen; nieces Laurie Gage and Linda (Brian) Fluty; nephews Read Gage, Bruce (Cheryl) Gage, Robert “Reg” (Janet) Gage, and Duane (Cathy) Gage; as well as more than 30 grand and great-grand nephews and nieces.

A memorial service for Melva will be held at Nassau Presbyterian Church on Monday, November 14 at 3 p.m. Memorial gifts may be directed to a charity of your choice or Kemmerer Village School, 941 N. 2500 East Road, Assumption, IL 62510.


Frank Rainer Schmidt

Frank Schmidt, 79, passed away abruptly on November 1, 2022 after a courageous battle with lung cancer. His passion for architecture defined his life, forever taking on new challenges and striving to make a difference through design. His empathic approach to his clients allowed him to sense and understand their hopes and wishes and to transform them into reality. It was this ability to connect with people through words and design that he was such a well-liked architect — and it was also the foundation for his eternal love for music.

A neighbor wrote this in memory of Frank: “Frank completed this neighborhood with his unique and loved character. We are going to miss his kindness and generosity of spirit. We are going to miss his piano music streaming out of the windows in the evenings. We are going to miss his spur-of-the-moment political concerns and discussions. In his special way, he made our neighborhood a ‘paradise’ for us all.”

Frank is survived by his wife, Dodi; his daughter-in-law, Marjorie; and many nieces and nephews. A celebration of his life will take place in the spring.


Connie Marks

Connie Marks, for more than 35 years an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia, died November 4, 2022, at 95. She was beloved in her neighborhood of Northeast Philly, where she got hundreds of children off to a strong academic start and helped them become kind, curious, and self-confident human beings. Every school has a teacher for whom parents petition the principal, begging for their children to be in that class. Connie was that teacher. Connie lived in Princeton, N.J., since 2005.

Born July 15, 1927, in Philadelphia, Constance Pearl Seidler was the daughter of Morris and Rose Seidler, who owned a dry-goods store in Minersville, Pa., a town known for its anthracite coal. She was the middle child, coming after brother Edwin and before baby sister Lois. The Seidlers were among only a few Jewish families in the community.

Connie’s high school yearbook singled her out as “the career girl” of the class. She loved reading, and as a high school student, she hoped to become a librarian. Minersville’s public library had closed in 1941, and in 1944, Connie and three classmates came up with a project to reopen it. With the help of a teacher, they cleaned all the books and helped to get the building ready. The library reopened in November of that year and remains open today.

After high school, Connie attended Penn State University, commuting to a satellite campus for the first two years. Her family had lost the dry-goods store as a result of the Great Depression, and so did not have money to send her for a master’s degree, which she would need to become a librarian. She majored in education instead. For the rest of her life, she said this was one of the best things that ever happened to her.

Connie adored teaching, and her students adored her. Her first teaching job was at the Landreth School in Philadelphia. But she spent almost her entire career — 35 years — at the school her own children attended, Louis H. Farrell Elementary School, just a couple of blocks from her Northeast Philadelphia home. She taught first and second grade — sometimes together — and led school assemblies and conducted the chorus. Some of her success can be attributed to what came to be known as the “Connie look”: She would stand silently at the front of a roomful of rambunctious 6-year-olds, and within seconds, the children would miraculously settle into silence.

In the 1970s, when Northeast Philly drew Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union and refugees from Vietnam, Connie advocated for these students and gave them clothing, toys, and equipment from her family’s closets. “If you haven’t worn it, played with it, or used it in a year, you don’t need it,” her daughter, Marilyn, recalls Connie telling her. Connie stressed that her daughter should never say anything if she saw another child wearing her coat or riding her bike in the schoolyard, as this would embarrass the child.

Connie’s success and devotion to teaching were recognized by her supervisors and others. She was nominated multiple times by district leaders to be national Teacher of the Year, and when she retired, the City Council adopted a resolution lauding her for “tapping into the inquisitive minds of children, and instilling pride and confidence in her students … so no child slips through the system unnoticed.” A council member presented the resolution at a surprise school assembly.

She was a strong supporter of her union, the American Federation of Teachers. But when the union went on strike for better working conditions — occasionally for weeks at a time — Connie worried that children in her class would fall behind. Each day, after spending the morning on the picket line, Connie would spend the afternoon tutoring children at her home. The lessons were free, though some families offered payment in lasagnas and cakes.
The great love of Connie’s life was Morris Marks, whom she met when they lived across the street from each other in Philadelphia. They were married for 64 years, until Morris died in May 2018. Together, they traveled around the country and the world, visiting Israel, the United Kingdom, and finally — in her late 70s — China, where their son, Ted, was working. The couple moved to Tamarac, Florida, for several years after retirement, where they built a network of close friends and were introduced to the pleasures of early-bird dinners. In 2005, health concerns brought them back to the Northeast, where they could be close to their daughter.

Connie enjoyed living in Princeton, where she found friends among neighbors and fellow members of her book club, the local chapter of Jewish Women International, and the Let’s Talk group meeting at the Princeton Senior Resource Center. She never missed an election and grew especially interested in politics later in life. She attended her first political fundraiser — for Barack Obama — when she was 81 years old.

Connie is survived by her children and children-in-law, Marilyn Marks Tal and Reli Tal of Princeton, with whom she lived; and Ted and Ilene Fluss Marks of San Jose, California. She is also survived by three grandchildren, Rinat Ma’ayan Tal, Eliana Lauren Marks, and Zachary Aaron Marks. In recent years, she most cherished her time with Rinat, Eliana, and Zack.

Funeral services and burial were held Sunday, November 6, at Princeton Cemetery.

The family suggests that contributions in her memory be sent to the Minersville, Pa., public library (; the Home and School Association at Farrell Elementary School (c/of Debbie Simon, Farrell School, 8300 Castor Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19152); Planned Parenthood (; or HIAS (

Arrangements are by Orland’s Memorial Chapel. For condolences, please visit Connie’s obituary page at


Peter M. O’Neill

Peter Michael O’Neill (1946-2022) passed away peacefully on October 25 after a valiant, graceful struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Recognized by his warm smile and kind heart, Peter was also known for his attentiveness, moral compass, and sense of humor. While battling a relentlessly debilitating disease in his final years, Peter continued to practice law, play golf, watch the Yankees and the Giants (with great vigor!), share book recommendations, and craft a steady stream of jokes until the end.

Peter was born in Summit, New Jersey, on November 22, 1946 to the late Peter E. O’Neill, a decorated World War II veteran, and Patricia O’Neill. He and his sister, Tina O’Neill Finn, grew up in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, and he graduated from Mountain Lakes High School in 1964, where he lettered in basketball and track. From Mountain Lakes, Peter went on to central New York to attend Colgate University where he ran track earning letters each year along with the “All-East” accolade. The hills of Colgate were never far from Peter’s heart, as he organized countless events and reunions, including chairing his 50th reunion committee.

At the time of his death Peter was a member of the Colgate Alumni Council and nominated for another term.

As he wrote in the 50th reunion book “Tapestry”: “My life changed on June 8, 1968, when just two weeks after graduating from Colgate, I met my future wife, Anne … I was as single and unattached as you could be, when Jeff LaCour a fellow Fiji asked me to go to a house around the corner and pick up a lifeguard he worked with who would not attend his party alone. Rang the doorbell, and Anne walked into my life.”

With his characteristic sense of purpose, he headed to Boston University School of Law while Anne went to the western part of Massachusetts as a freshman at Smith College. Two months after Peter’s graduation from law school in June 1971, he and Anne married on August 28th, surrounded by friends and their families.

After a stint in the Essex County Prosecutor’s office in Newark trying criminal cases on behalf of the State, Peter joined a small firm in Newark. Then one enlightened day after several years of coming home to Princeton and finding his children asleep, he decided to take his legal skills to Princeton — and with any luck be home for dinner with his family. He established a well-respected and busy law practice on Nassau Street, representing individuals and businesses in a variety of transactional and litigation matters. At the time of his death, Peter was with the law firm of Stevens & Lee, in Lawrenceville.

In addition to his passions for Colgate, law, and his family, Peter embraced golf after the semi-retirement of his tennis racquet. He was a member of The Bedens Brook Club, where he was a past president, and TPC Jasna Polana, where he was on the Board of Governors. Peter and Anne shared this love of golf together playing numerous courses across the U.S. and abroad with various friends and family members. On September 22, 1998, at Tullyhogue, the mystical site in County Tyrone, of the O’Neill clan, Peter was crowned Chieftain. Ireland and his passion for golf would be forever linked.

He is survived by his wife, Anne; his three children, Katie O’Neill Burgener of Boston, MA, Sarah O’Neill Kreter of Londonderry, NH, and Michael Sean O’Neill of Bloomfield, NJ; their spouses Phil Burgener, Justin Kreter, and Brittany Trevenen O’Neill; and his six grandchildren, Annabel, Eloise, Cody, Gunnar, Abigail, and Elizabeth. Peter is also survived by his sister, Tina, his niece, Christen, and a legion of loving Conley family relatives (Anne is one of 11 siblings).

Peter relished connecting with friends and family near and far, playing amateur deejay, dancing with Anne whether in the living room or on a wedding dance floor, traveling with friends and family, cooking and grilling, devouring non-fiction and fiction alike, along with reading anything to his grandchildren. And being a grateful citizen of the Princeton community for over 50 years.

In honor of Peter’s lifelong pursuit of strength in both mind and body, donations in his memory can be made to Colgate University or Princeton Medical Center Foundation.

Arrangements under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton, NJ.


Raymond Leroy Hallows

Raymond Leroy Hallows, 93, of Skillman, NJ, died on October 27, 2022, close to his loving family.

Ray grew up in Joplin, Missouri. Since he, age 12, bought his first Bolex movie camera, his passion was documenting family memories in motion pictures and video.

Ray received a BSEE degree in 1952 from Missouri University – Science and Technology. Upon graduation, Ray joined the Radio Corporation of America. Following RCA, Ray’s engineering positions were with New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority, Mercer County Community College, Advanced Technology Systems in Fairlawn, NJ, EMR Photoelectric in Princeton, and CBS in New York.

He married Barbara Gould in 1962 and they raised three children, Laurie, Kenneth, and Gail in Lawrenceville, NJ. Ray loved the family home, which he maintained attentively for 57 years. There, he assembled an extensive collection of editing and projection equipment. He enjoyed working on audio visual projects and running his film-to-tape and digital editing and transfer service. Over the years, there were many family reunions, especially on Star Island, in the historic Isles of Shoals, 10 miles off Portsmouth, NH.

He was a Life Member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, serving as Manager and Membership Chairman in Philadelphia, and on the Board of Editors of the SMPTE Journal.

He was also a member of the Princeton Chapter of the SPEBSQSA (Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America). His involvement in this group inspired his lifelong habit of spontaneously erupting into humorous song. This irreverent and joyful practice continued to his final days. A master of the English language, he enjoyed crossword puzzles, and playfully recited puns, poetry, limericks, and famous quotations.

Ray is predeceased by his sister, Jean Ann and his first granddaughter, Evan Lee. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Hallows; three children: Laurie (John), Kenneth (Nuria), and Gail (Jonathan); eight grandchildren: Eleanor, Theo, Brian, Alexander, Andrew, Kale, Adelaide, and Lane; nieces, Lani, Diane, and nephew, David and their families.

A private burial and life celebration tribute was held at the Natural Burial Space at Rosemont Cemetery, in Hunterdon County, NJ.

A memorial service is planned for Spring 2023 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton (UUCP), 50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton, NJ 08540.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the UUCP, or the Star Island Corporation, Portsmouth, NH, or Doctors Without Borders.


Edwin Paul Beckerman

Edwin Paul Beckerman, the library director who helped transform a patchwork of small, unaffiliated book rooms into the modern Woodbridge Library System, died Saturday, October 29 at age 94. He had been a Princeton resident since 1968.

“He was the Garibaldi of our system,” said his daughter-in-law, Wenda Rottweiler, the current coordinator of the Woodbridge Main Library, who has been with the system since 1989. “He brought everything together, and brought it into the modern age.”

Ed was also an author, teacher, and past president of the New Jersey Library Association (1970-1971) whose ideas about library construction and management had an influence that went beyond New Jersey.

He was a trustee of the Princeton Public Library for more than a decade, and did consulting work for more than 100 libraries in the tri-state area and beyond. His 1994 book Administration of the Public Library, written with Alice Gertzog, has become a standard text.

“He always had wisdom to share with us, and he was so generous with his time,” recalled Leslie Burger, past president of the American Library Association, who was mentored by Beckerman. “He was respected by everybody.”

When Beckerman arrived in Woodbridge, in 1964, each section of the sprawling township had its own independent library — stocked with a motley assortment of donated books. Of some 70,000 books in the eight sites, he later recalled, maybe 20,000 were worth keeping. One chemistry book dated back to 1913.

Beckerman knit the system together, turning the independent libraries into branches, hiring qualified personnel, and bringing in a flood of new — and properly vetted — books and periodicals.

Four new branch libraries were built during his 26-year tenure: in Iselin, Fords, Port Reading, and Colonia. In 1974, he cut the ribbon on the new $2.9 million Woodbridge Main Library on Route 35. Its collection included 175,000 books, 500 films, and 900 periodicals. When he’d arrived, the total number of subscriptions — between all eight township libraries — had been 20.

“He had the ability to see the future,” Burger said.

Ed, the son of Morris and Elizabeth Beckerman, grew up in the Bronx, in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. From their building, they could literally see into it. “We used to be able to go up to the roof of my house, take a radio, and see the game,” he recalled in 1990.

It was a neighborhood of immigrants and strivers. Future singer Eydie Gormé was a local. So was Stanley Kubrick, Ed’s classmate (and occasional ping-pong partner) at William Howard Taft High School. Ed’s brother, Bernard Beckerman, was to become a noted Shakespeare scholar. Ed had been active in theater himself, but a hearing impairment led him away from the stage, and into library work.

After getting a BA from the University of Missouri and MLS degree from Columbia, he found work as a consultant for the New York Public Library — with special emphasis on outreach. He helped pioneer bookmobile programs for underserved communities, and worked in Harlem in the mid-1950s. Social justice was important to him: one of his proudest achievements, in Woodbridge, was the creation of Middlesex County’s first Head Start program.
Ed married librarian Jean Friedburg in 1954. They had three children: James, Lee, and Peter. Jean died in June 2020.

In 1963, in Woodbridge, there was a referendum. Should those scattered, antiquated libraries be brought into the 20th century? They should. Beckerman was by then known in the field; he had worked at the Leicester City Public Library in England (as part of a Department of State exchange program) and was assistant director of the Yonkers N.Y. Public Library. He was tapped for the job.

Ed had a mandate. But that wasn’t enough. One of his key insights was that library management was a political job.

Funding depended on the good will of elected officials — some of whom might have little interest in books.

So he made himself a familiar figure in Woodbridge. He hobnobbed with mayors, and advocated for libraries at town council meetings and Rotary Club get-togethers. Politics and The American Public Library: Creating Political Support for Library Goals, published in 1996, was his master class on the subject.

How right he was became apparent in 1965, when he faced strong headwinds from critics.

Book bans are headline news today. But they aren’t new. Two novels, the bawdy satire Candy and the grimly realistic Last Exit to Brooklyn, were causing a stir. “Obscene and rotten filth,” one former councilman called them.

Beckerman had both books on his shelves. Worse, he had actually spoken at a Rutgers symposium on censorship, co-sponsored by the ACLU. There were some who wanted his head.

But Ed had laid the groundwork. He had allies in city hall. He also had a knack for bridge-building, for patiently explaining his beliefs. “The question of the value of the material is disagreed upon among the critics,” he said. He himself found Last Exit “brilliant, revolting.” But shouldn’t people be allowed to make up their own minds? In a unanimous vote, the library board of trustees reaffirmed the book selection and gave Beckerman their full backing.

“Tact,” read a plaque on Ed’s desk — it was a paraphrase of Churchill — “is when you tell someone to go to hell, and they can’t wait to get there.” Ed Beckerman was a very tactful man.

Another example of his tact — and decency — was recalled by his son Lee. They were eating at a New York cafeteria, and saw a homeless man collecting scraps. Ed quietly dropped a bill on the ground, then picked it up and handed it to the man, saying, “I think you dropped this.”

“To me, not only the empathy to recognize a person in need, but the ability to help without assaulting the other person’s dignity, was masterful,” Lee said.

Ed was a lifelong Yankee fan, Civil War enthusiast, theater aficionado, Mozart lover, and folk music buff who had been playing guitar since age 20. He was known to his neighbors at Brandywine Living, his home since 2017, for playing in the weekly jam sessions with other residents.

He was a kind, gentle, generous man who will be missed by his sons Jim, Lee, and Peter and their spouses, Tom, Wendi, and Eileen; his grandchildren Max, Amelia, Kai, and Lydia; his niece Susan Braun; and his nephews Michael Beckerman, Jonathan Beckerman, and Michael Braun.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the New Jersey Library Association scholarship fund at or the ACLU at

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