Isabel Stark

Isabel B. Stark, who served as a Superior Court judge in Bergen County for two decades, has died. She was 72.

The cause was liver cancer, her husband, Harvey Gold, said.

Mrs. Stark was nominated for a Superior Court judgeship in 1985 after 10 years in law practice with Lorraine A. Abraham. They met during their clerkships at the Bergen County Courthouse, and theirs was Bergen's first all-women law firm.

Among her prominent rulings from the bench, Mrs. Stark in 1988 held that comedian Joe Piscopo's celebrity status was a "quantifiable asset" in his divorce proceedings. In 2001, citing the public's "absolute right" to public records, she dismissed the Lyndhurst school board's lawsuit against three government watchdogs accused of harassing school officials with requests for public information.

Mrs. Stark graduated from Paterson's East Sside High School and Syracuse University, and received a law degree from Seton Hall.

She made women's rights a forte in her law practice. Abraham said Mrs. Stark represented many women in matrimonial cases and female police officers in discrimination cases. Mrs. Stark led a Women's Rights Committee that female members of the Bergen County Bar Association formed in the 1970s.

She also had been a court-appointed special master in a Fort Lee rent dispute.

Eulogizing her friend Monday at Robert Schoem's Menorah Chapel in Paramus, Abraham said, "Isabel went to law school to have the tools and skills to try to make the world a better place & and to make the world better for women."

Mrs. Stark, formerly of Fort Lee, died on New Year's Day at her home in Boynton Beach, Fla. She is survived by her husband; her daughters, Laura Baker of Randolph and Diane Stark of Wood-Ridge; two sisters, Edith Ratner of Lake Worth, Fla., and Roberta Lobel of Manhattan; and four grandchildren. She also is survived by her former husband, Dr. Sherman Stark.

Harvey Gold said he met his wife in 2000 on JDate, the online match service for Jewish singles. It wasn't until after a couple of dates that Mrs. Stark 'fessed up that she was more than the lawyer she had said she was.

Asked what went through his mind when he learned he was dating a judge, Gold said, "Oh, I'd better be on my best behavior."

Published in The Record on Jan. 9, 2013