A 20-year veteran of the New Jersey Legislature, Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-12) has died at the age of 73.
Mr. Dancer first served in elected office on the Plumsted Township committee, and became mayor in 1990. He continued to be selected for one-year terms until 2011 when he retired from the committee, served on the Ocean County Board of Social Services since 1997 (as Chair), the Ocean County Natural Lands and Farmland Preservation Advisory Committee since 1998 and the Ocean County Senior Services Advisory Council since 2002.
He was also on the New Jersey Horse Racing Commission from 1999 to 2002.
After retiring as mayor, he served as the business administrator for Plumsted Township, and first assumed office as an assemblyman in 2002.
“Tammy and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Assemblyman Ron Dancer,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement. “True to his roots in one of New Jersey’s storied equestrian racing families, in public service he was a work horse not a show horse. A proud veteran with a quiet demeanor and humble nature, Ron built friendships across the aisle. His focus on New Jersey’s agricultural, horse-racing, and tourist industries, and our honored military veterans, leaves a lasting legacy. Our state flags will be lowered to half-staff in his honor and memory. His wife, Brenda, their children and grandchildren, and the entire Dancer family are in all of our thoughts this weekend.”
Today, Tom Szymanski, Executive Director of the New Jersey Republican State Committee (“NJGOP”), released the following statement in response to the death of Assemblyman Dancer, following a long and courageous battle.
“New Jersey lost a great man, American and public servant today. The New Jersey Republican Party offers our deepest condolences to Assemblyman Dancer’s wife Brenda and the entire Dancer family.
“Assemblyman Dancer proudly and faithfully represented his constituents in the State Legislature for over two decades, and he honorably served his country in the United States Army.
“Assemblyman Dancer was a committed fighter for New Jersey’s taxpayers, veterans, small businesses and agricultural community, but above all, we will miss his warmth, kindness and integrity.”
Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-19) issued the following statement Saturday in response to the death of Assemblyman Dancer from the 12th legislative district:
“I am saddened to learn of the loss of a true gentleman in New Jersey politics. In his two decades of public service in the Assembly, Ron Dancer was always someone who strived to work across the aisle.
“A veteran himself, he leaves behind a legacy of advocacy on behalf of our military men and women. He was also a champion for New Jersey’s agricultural and horse racing communities, and contributed greatly to innovative expansions of our state’s tourism – most recently being the sponsor of legislation that will widen economic opportunity for our wineries and farms.
“His absence will certainly be felt by all of us in the Assembly and by the residents of Ocean County he faithfully served. We extend our most heartfelt prayers to all family and friends mourning him.”
Said state Senator Sam Thompson (R-12):
“Assemblyman Dancer served the people of our legislative district with tireless energy and unwavering commitment. He was a true gentleman in the Legislature. It was an honor to having him on our team representing the hard-working residents of the 12th District. He will be missed in the halls of the state house and in the local municipalities he loved.
“My thoughts and prayers go out for his wife, Brenda and their children and grandchildren.”
InsiderNJ received the following obituary from the Assembly Republican Office:
Assembly Republicans today are mourning the death of their colleague, Assemblyman Ronald Dancer. He was 73.A New Egypt native, Dancer was serving as Plumsted Township mayor in 2002 when district Republicans tapped him to fill a vacancy created by Assemblyman Melvin Cottrell’s passing. He most recently served on the Assembly agriculture and food security, military and veterans’ affairs, and tourism, gaming and the arts committees. “Ron’s 20 years in the Assembly are marked not only by his tireless efforts to serve his constituents, even during his illness, but his willingness to work across party lines to accomplish what he believed was best for all New Jerseyans,” Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Warren) said. “He was a true patriot, statesman, gentleman, and my good friend. He will be sorely missed. My prayers and those of our conference are with his beloved wife Brenda and their family.” Dancer served in the United States Army from 1969-1971. At home, he professionally raced and trained horses for 30 years, following in the footsteps of his father Stanley Dancer, the Hall of Fame Harness Horse Racing driver. Dancer has been a tireless advocate for the farming community, the horse racing industry and taxpayers. Notable legislation enacted into law include: allowing for special occasion events on preserved farms; providing funding to increase horse racing purses; and allowing municipalities to establish programs to encourage local shopping through property tax rewards. “No service member who ever stepped foot in New Jersey had a greater ally than Ron. His most powerful pieces of legislation honored and protected those who selflessly serve their fellow countrymen.” DiMaio added. “Likewise, his passion for agriculture and horse racing is evident in the bills he sponsored to strengthen and safeguard those industries.” For nearly 40 years, Dancer volunteered for numerous groups, including the Ocean County Board of Social Services, which he chaired; the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund Advisory Committee; the Ocean County Senior Citizens Advisory Council; the New Jersey Horse Racing Commission; and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture Sire Stakes Board. “Ron has left us with a legacy that serves as a beacon for public servants now and New Jersey leaders of the future,’ DiMaio concluded. “Ultimately, it’s not about Republican or Democrat; it’s about the people we serve. Ron served the people well.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) released the following statement on the death of longtime New Jersey State Assemblyman Dancer:
“Ron Dancer was a tireless public servant who served his country in the Army before becoming a highly respected and enormously popular mayor of Plumsted and assemblyman for the 12th Legislative District. A great friend to many and true civic leader, Ron was as gracious and considerate as he was hard working and effective. I cannot think of anyone who loved Plumsted and personified the township more than Ron Dancer.
“His trade-mark energetic leadership as a state legislator is marked by many issues he took head-on, especially advocating for the equestrian community, protecting veterans’ concerns on the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and defending the unborn on pro-life matters before the Assembly. He was a one-of-a-kind public servant whom I always greatly admired, and I am proud to have known him and called him my good friend.
“Marie’s and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife Brenda and his loved ones as we celebrate his life of service and mourn his passing.”