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Welcome to the memorial page for

Anthony V Payer

July 19, 1928 ~ September 17, 2017 (age 89)

Anthony "Tony" Vincent Payer, age 89, of Dunellen, NJ died peacefully on September 17, 2017 from a glioblastoma brain tumor.  He had many interests and he lived a rich and full life.  He and his beloved wife, Ruth (nee Lenskold) Payer, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in July.

Tony was born July 19, 1928 in Bayonne, NJ to Anthony G. & Mary (Kakascik) Payer.  He was raised in a large Catholic family.  His grandparents had emigrated from the town of Solivar, Slovakia.  Tony was the eldest of four brothers; the other three were Alfred (Al), Francis (Frank), and Thomas (Tommy).  He was predeceased by Al and Tommy.  Tony was a waterman from a young age, and he talked often of his early years spent building small boats, sailing on New York Bay, and going to work with his father at a restaurant in New York City.  He graduated from Bayonne High School, and attended Bayonne Junior College for 2 years.

In 1948, Tony was hired by General Cable Corporation and worked three years as a Junior Engineer at their Bayonne and Perth Amboy, NJ facilities.  The company was known for its research, inventions and wartime production as the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical wires and cables.  At the turn of the century, its Bayonne employees had pioneered the development of rubber-covered submarine telephone lines laid from Seattle to Alaska and from the US to Mexico.  During WWII, General Cable produced ten times more communication wire and cable than its nearest competitor, and supplied the US, France and Britain.

By 1950, the Cold War was well under way. In June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, and President Truman ordered American armed forces to help save South Korea from communism.  Tony joined the US Navy on May 7, 1952 and completed his 13-week boot camp at the Bainbridge Naval Training Center, in Port Deposit, Maryland.  He was stationed at the “Brooklyn Navy Yard” (New York Naval Shipyard on the East River), where he took courses in math and electricity, and corrected homework for sailors at sea.  While he was there, the Brooklyn Navy Yard converted the USS Antietam, built in Philadelphia in 1945, into America’s first angled-deck aircraft carrier.

Tony was transferred to the bustling Naval Station Great Lakes, north of Chicago, Illinois, where he took courses, became an Electronics Technician, and sailed on Lake Michigan.  In July 1953, United Nations forces, led by America, came to a cease fire Armistice Agreement with North Korea.  Tony also served at the US Naval Barracks, Annapolis, Maryland as a Petty Officer First Class, where he took courses in electrical engineering and managed the training films for the cadets.  He recalled many wonderful stories of sailing small boats, yachts and brigantine ships on the Chesapeake Bay.

After his June 28, 1955 honorable discharge from the Naval Reserves as an Electronics Technician and Radio Repairman, Tony joined Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ.  He worked 31 years as an Electronics Technician conducting research experiments and quality control tests in support of the brilliant mathematicians, scientists and engineers who developed electrical transistors, semiconductors, lasers and satellites.  He met his future wife, Ruth Lenskold, at Bell Labs where she managed the Typing Pool.  They were married on July 20, 1957 in North Plainfield, NJ, and lived in Summit and Dunellen, NJ where they raised six children.  Tony and Ruth have been parishioners at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Dunellen for 55 years.

When his kids were growing up, Tony took them hiking, fishing, hunting and canoeing and taught them outdoor skills.  Always the scientist, he took them to Bell Labs Family Days to watch experiments, and he brought home microscopes for them to look at the organisms in pond water.  At Bell Labs, he attended many technical presentations, took leadership courses, was involved in several clubs, including Toastmasters, kayaking and table tennis, and he grew vegetables in a community garden plot. 


At home, he always had a dozen projects in various stages of disassembly, repair and construction.  Tony helped his sons compete in the Boy Scouts’ Pinewood Derby, and made sure his daughters knew how to check and replace all the fluids in the car.

During his long retirement, Tony enjoyed visiting and traveling with his family, tinkering with mechanical and auto projects, collecting tools and knives, reading about, and enthusiastically discussing, advances in health, medicine and science, riding his bicycle around Dunellen, and watching classic movies and TED talks.  He was a master knife sharpener, and taught this valuable craft to his children and grandchildren.

He leaves behind his beloved wife Ruth; children Marian Young (husband Mark Lannan) of Avondale, PA; Jean Payer (husband Brian Stoltzfus) of Sinking Spring, PA; Anthony F. Payer (wife Rebecca) of Wall Township, NJ; Carol Cooper (husband Mark) of Chester, NJ; Nancy Sauers (husband Jim) of Holland, PA; and John Payer (wife Deborah) of Lanoka Harbor, NJ.

"Grandpa" / "Pa" will be missed by his loving grandchildren:  Nathan, Nicholas & Jacob Stoltzfus; Tessa Payer; Matthew Cooper (wife Priya) & Leigh Cooper; Lauren & Elizabeth Sauers; Britney Payer; Mark Kijula (wife Michele); Christal Aberle (husband Michael); Nicholas Kijula; Justin Lannan (wife Kathryn); Alex Lannan (wife Barbara); and by his great-grandchildren Nodis and Mylee Kijula, Allilyn & Lyrah Aberle, Seth Kijula, and Penelope Lannan.

Tony is also survived by his brother Frank Payer (wife Lynn), sister-in-law Barbara Payer, Ruth’s brothers and their wives, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

The family wishes to thank the doctors, nurses and caregivers at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center Somerset, at Care One at Somerset Valley, and at Promise House at the VA Lyons Medical Center for the care and support given to Tony and his family.

Visitation on Thursday, September 21 will be from 6 pm to 8 pm at Sheenan Funeral Home, 233 Dunellen Ave, Dunellen, NJ.  Visitation on Friday, September 22 will be from 8:30 am to 9:30 am at St. John the Evangelist Church, 315 North Washington Avenue, Dunellen, NJ.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, September 22 at 9:30 am at St. John's Church.  Burial will be private. 

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations in Anthony V. Payer's memory be made to St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, or to Second Life Bikes, a non-profit bicycle repair shop in Asbury Park, NJ with a social mission to build community by teaching kids to repair and build bikes and earn a bike of their own


Eulogy for Dad


I’m sure that when my father was growing up and thinking about his future life, he never envisioned the path that it was going to take. 

From an early age, my father, being the eldest son, took on a huge responsibility, the kind you don’t brag or complain about, you just accept.  So maybe my father felt, that at some point in his life, he would be able to fully return to his plans of just sailing quietly around the bay at dawn or dusk, taking in the healing sounds of rippling water and diving terns.  While pondering all the beauty that God has given us…..Not so fast…..who says that God doesn’t have a sense of humor. 


There was a certain amount of education Dad needed to acquire…. and bills to be paid equaled full-time employment.  Then the Korean War began, and like all responsible young men of the time, who believed in America and freedom, and being a sailor, he joined the Navy.   The Navy realized my father’s intelligence level, and decided to further his education.  After three years, and an honorable discharge, he then returned to another full time job at Bell Telephone Labs where he met my Mother.


When Dad and Mom were married in 1957, a day shy of his 29th birthday, I’m sure he never envisioned he would be driving a topsy-turvey, twisting, seven-car high-speed roller coaster on broken tracks.  He and Mom in the front car, followed by loosely-connected cars in which sat Marian, Jean, Anthony, Carol, Nancy and John.


Well, I can tell you from what I’ve watched and witnessed in my lifetime, many a strong man would have bailed out by turn five.  My father never faltered.   He, unknowingly to us, was constantly tightening the bolts between the cars, and repairing the tracks we rode on, sometimes even as we were flying along over them.


The train seemed to always go faster, and the maintenance forever increased.   Undaunted, he stayed in, and focused even harder.   I’m sure that many times he was fearful of crashing, as we went through the tunnels of uncharted areas, with the ceiling and walls crashing down around us.  But he never gave up, or showed signs of weakness.  He just gripped the wheel tighter and yelled, “Hold onto each other!  We are in this together!”  And we would push forward singing “Oh we ain’t got a barrel of money, maybe we’re ragged and funny, but we’ll travel along, singin’ our song, side by side,”

Church on Sundays, and Holy Days, and grace at meals. 
Parent-teacher conferences, first penance, first communions, confirmations, and graduations. 
School plays, choir concerts, sporting events, football, cheerleading, color guard, drill team, basketball, wrestling. 
Baseball, cross-country and track. 
Girl scouts, boy scouts, dance recitals, bike riding, ice skating, gardening. 
Raising domestic and wild animals,
Disassembling and reassembling a swimming pool
Fire arms, and archery, hunting and fishing. 
Adolescent years with boyfriends and girlfriends,
and drivers’ licenses, proms and mistletoes, and science fairs.
Scouting for colleges and drop-offs and pickups. 
Large family gatherings throughout the year, camping trips and beach houses. 

Multiply this times 6 kids and then grandkids.  Dad was always there offering loads of advice that often seemingly fell on deaf ears, but always, sometimes slowly, had a way of sinking in, only to arise at the times in life when we needed it the most.


The amount of effort it takes to keep a family this size, not just intact, but together, and closely knit, is extreme.  It can’t just come from one, but only from two loving and caring parents, who not only allowed Jesus into their lives, but brought us up to know him and accept him as well.


We were raised and allowed to be our own individuals, yet taught to be humble and put others first.   To be open minded and detail-oriented and cover all bases while trying to make decisions in life.

To be truthful and honest to ourselves and others.   To always strive to do our best, while always leaving room for improvement.   And to stand up and be the responsible one when no one else wanted to be.   The solution to every problem is out there somewhere.  Kicking, stomping your feet, whining, and running away will always push the answer further away from you.

Thinking with a clear head while listening to others’ opinions and suggestions will get you where you need to be.  That means you take everything into consideration, then make your best decision.  Learn from your mistakes, don’t dwell on them.  Everyone makes them, but not all learn from them.


The lessons my father taught us, and the way in which he did, were uncanny to say the least.  Some lessons took us years and certain circumstances in our lives for the lightbulb to click on.  Then we would say “Oh now I get it….wow.  Thank you Dad.”


My father even taught us many lessons during his passing.  He brought us closer together as a family than we have ever been.  He accepted the fate that he was given, yet once again, showed his selflessness.  As he struggled with his illness and loss of speech, he frantically, yet lovingly, directed us this summer to have a new reliable car purchased for Mom.

Dad made sure that each one of us knew that we were deeply loved by him.  That he has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and he will meet with us again someday in Heaven.

As I reflect back on my entire life, I can clearly see all the positive impacts that my father had on every aspect of my life, my siblings’ lives, our children’s and grandchildrens’ lives, and the many others he crossed paths with.


I am forever thankful that I and we, were blessed with such a wonderful person to be our father. 


I think I speak for all of us here as I say “Thank you Dad……Thank you Honey……Thank you Grandpa……Thank you Great Grandpa…… Thank you Uncle Tony……Thank you Brother……Thank you Friend.


Until we meet again in Heaven, please pray for us on earth. 

We love you and miss you.

Rest in Peace Dad, on your heavenly sailboat. 





 Service Information

September 21, 2017

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Sheenan Funeral Home
233 Dunellen Ave.
Dunellen, NJ 08812

September 22, 2017

8:30 AM to 9:30 AM
St Johns Catholic Church
317 1st St
Dunellen, NJ 08812

Funeral Mass
September 22, 2017

9:30 AM
St Johns Catholic Church
317 1st St
Dunellen, NJ 08812

Private Interment

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