Former New Jersey governor Brendan Byrne dies at 93
Former New Jersey Gov. Brendan Byrne died Thursday. He was 93.
The Democrat from West Orange was elected twice and served from 1974 to 1982.
His time in office was marked by the implementation of the state's income tax. While that may have proved a liability, Byrne was the last Democratic governor to be elected to a second term by New Jersey voters.
After leaving office, Byrne remained a respected statesmen and, along with his successor — two-term Gov. Tom Kean — remained one of the Garden State's most popular living ex-governors. He and Kean commented on current affairs in a long-running column in The Star-Ledger.
In 2011, he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in a class that included Tony Bennett, Leon Hess, Queen Latifah, Martha Stewart, John Travolta and Bruce Willis.
Gov. Chris Christie issued this statement in response to the news:
"Governor Byrne had an extraordinary career of public service. He served as counsel to Governor Meyner, Deputy Attorney General, Essex County Prosecutor, Superior Court Judge and two-term Governor of New Jersey. He did each of those jobs with integrity, honesty, intelligence, wit and flair. He cared deeply for the state's environment, led the charge for the development of the Meadowlands Complex and for the establishment of casino gaming in Atlantic City.
He served his country in World War II and went on to graduate from Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
He was the proud father of seven children and was a treasure to his home state where, in 2011, he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
On a personal note, Mary Pat and I express our deepest condolences to his wife Ruthie and his entire family. I considered Governor Byrne a mentor and a friend. My life is richer for having known him as I am sure are the lives of every person who had the privilege to meet him.
We ask all New Jerseyans to put Governor Byrne and his family in your prayers tonight."
Gov.-elect Phil Murphy said "Byrne was a man of incredible decency, inscrutable honesty, admirable humility, and tremendous humor. He restored New Jersey’s faith that good people do go into politics to do the right things for the right reasons."
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, on Thursday called Byrne "one of our great governors."
“Gov. Byrne was a man who always — always — put doing the right thing ahead of politics, no matter how the difficult the issue. His intelligence, honor, wit and courage combined with his dedication to his country and public service made him a model for all of us in elected office to emulate.
“But besides his political skills and successes as governor and in the many other roles that he served with integrity, Gov. Byrne was above all a good and decent man, with a wonderful sense of humor. If you measure a man by his character, then Gov. Byrne was immeasurable."