Voorhees Mall at Rutgers University, in honor of Ralph and Elizabeth Voorhees
Ralph Whitaker Voorhees made an impression on society not through his work as a stockbroker but as a person heavily involved in civic activities and philanthropy. His civic involvement dates back to 1958 as a councilman in Highland Park, New Jersey, and continued for the remainder of his life in such fields as education, health, urban renewal, politics and religion.
Voorhees civic involvement was preceded by the civic involvement of one of his great uncles, incidentally also named Ralph Voorhees who with his wife Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees are still known as the co-founders of Voorhees College, a black liberal arts college in Denmark, South Carolina.
Ralph Voorhees is best known for his contributions to Rutgers University, the institution with which his family has had close ties for over 100 years. Voorhees was Chairman of the Board of the Rutgers University Foundation and also served on the Rutgers Foundation Board of Overseers.
With his brother Alan, they established the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli, Art Museum, named after their mother at Rutgers University in 1983. Also the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement is named in his honor.
In the 1990's Voorhees co-founded the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at the Bloustein School. The School was named after his brother who was a well-known transportation planner. He was also instrumental in the founding of the Rutgers University Football Hall of Fame.
In 1983, Voorhees was awarded the US Presidential Recognition Award for volunteerism by President Reagan. It is not known if he was embarrassed with that honor being awarded by a Republican president because he personally was a lifelong Democrat.
Voorhees also was Chairman of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and was actively involved in the affiliation of Middlesex General Hospital with Rutgers Medical School.
Voorhees was born in New Brunswick, NJ on May 4, 1926. Like his father and grandfather he attended Rutgers College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1948.
Voorhees married Barbara Beiser Voorhees in 1954 in Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Two years later they moved to Highland, NJ, the town in which he was born and grew up. They had four children, Judy, Mark, Jane and Alan and 15 grandchildren. Mrs. Voorhees passed away in 2005.
Voorhees namesake, his great uncle Ralph Voorhees and his wife, Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees were instrumental in the establishment of Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina. In 1902, the great uncle with his wife made a $ 5,000 donation which allowed the predecessor school of Voorhees College to buy land and its first building to continue operating the school. Prior to that time they had operated in rented store space.
The founders of Voorhees College recognized the support from the great uncle and his wife by naming their school and later the college the Voorhees College. Ralph Whitaker Voorhees, the donor's nephew was a trustee of the College for many years.
Ralph Whitaker Voorhees passed away from natural causes on November 5, 2013. He was being cared for in the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, an institution he helped govern during its life. He was 87 at the time of his death. His funeral service was held at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, an institution closely tied to his Dutch ancestors.
Ralph Whitaker Voorhees, Wikipedia.
New Brunswick Star Ledger, November 7, 2013
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