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David B. Crabiel

Obituary Condolences

(Home News Tribune)

DAVID B. CRABIEL
AGE: 78 MILLTOWN
Longtime Freeholder Director David B. Crabiel died yesterday, December 1, 2008, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick. He was 78.
Born in Milltown, he was a lifelong resident. A funeral director by profession, he was a 1955 graduate of the American Academy of Embalming and Funeral Service. In 1956 he opened his first funeral home, The Crabiel Home for Funerals, in Milltown. In addition he was the founder of Crabiel Inc., which operates funeral homes in Central Jersey: Gray Funeral Home in Westfield, Gray Memorial Funeral Home in Cranford, Crabiel Parkwest Funeral Chapel in New Brunswick, Crabiel Memorial Funeral Home in Hightstown, and Gowen Funeral Home, LLC in New Brunswick. He was a member of the Middlesex-Somerset Funeral Directors Association.
He served during the Korean War in the U.S. Army, stationed in Alaska. He was Past Commander and a 50-year member of the Joyce Kilmer Post 25, American Legion in Milltown.
Following in the long tradition of the Crabiel family, he was an avid public servant, simply serving where he was needed. At 16 years of age, "Dave,'' as he liked to be called, became the youngest member of the Milltown Rescue Squad. He was past President, and currently a 50-year member of the Milltown Lions Club. He was an honorary member of the Milltown Fire Department and Milltown Jaycees. He was a member of St. Paul's Church, Milltown.
Dave has been in service as an elected official since 1960, when he became a councilman in Milltown. He was elected mayor of Milltown in 1967, where he served for 11 years before being appointed to the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1978. He became freeholder director in 1994-1995 and served from 1998 to the present. While serving as mayor of Milltown, he coined the phrase "Milltown - The Greatest Little Town in the Land.'' When he became freeholder he expanded it to "Middlesex County, the Greatest County in the Land.''
He was past president of the NJ Association of Counties, and past member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Counties.
He was Honorary Chairman of the Melvin H. Motolinsky Research Foundation, Honorary Co-chair of the Middlesex County Human Relations Commission, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Cerebral Palsy Association, Keep Middlesex Moving, North Jersey Transportation Planning Commission, and was on the Advisory Board of the Raritan Valley Workshop and Board of Trustees of Middlesex County College.
Dave was the recipient of numerous social and professional awards including: the prestigious Charles A. Lindbergh Transportation Award, the Israel Peace Medal from the State of Israel Bond Drive, the National Conference of the Christians and Jews Brotherhood Award, the Middlesex County American Hungarian Democratic Award and the Hungarian American Foundation Award.
A David B. Crabiel Scholarship Foundation was organized by friends in 1992 to perpetuate the leadership and dedicated spirit of Dave. A scholarship is awarded yearly to a Middlesex County high school senior.
Son the late Joseph M. and Helen (Glock) Crabiel, he was also predeceased by his sister, M. Paulette Crabiel, and his brother, former Senator and Secretary of State J. Edward Crabiel (he died in 1992).
Surviving are his wife Mary (Varga) Crabiel; his son and daughter-in-law David J. and Joan Crabiel of Belfast, Maine; his daughters Marybeth Sondergaard of Metuchen, Kathy Jo Thorne of Hightstown, Carolee Grocott of Milltown, and Paulette J. and her husband Mayor Brian C. Wahler of Piscataway.
He is also survived by his 10 grandchildren, Melissa and her husband David Simpson, David Thorne, Sean Sondergaard, Danny Thorne, Alicia Sondergaard, Olivia & B.C. Wahler, David A. Crabiel, Michael Casey Wahler and Jimmy Crabiel, and his four great-grandchildren Kennedy, Avery, Ryder and Kali.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul's Church, 62 South Main Street, Milltown. Interment will follow at Van Liew Cemetery, North Brunswick. Friends and relatives may call tonight (Tuesday) from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. and Wednesday from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. & 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at The Crabiel Home for Funerals, 170 North Main St. at Riva Avenue, Milltown.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to either: the Freeholder David B. Crabiel Scholarship Foundation, c/o 170 N. Main St., Milltown; the Milltown Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 308, Milltown, or St. Paul's Church.

Published in Home News Tribune on Dec. 2, 2008
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