The Office of Christian Burial according to the Byzantine Rite with the Divine Liturgy was celebrated April 14 in St. Thomas Byzantine Catholic Church, Rahway, for John Nicholas Surmay who died April 9 in his home in Elizabeth. He was 81.
Remembered for his participation on the Commission for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Public Policy Committee of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, Mr. Surmay was born in Tower City, Pa., in 1936. He attended Rutgers University College of Pharmacy from which he graduated in 1959 and went on to have a distinguished career as both a public servant and a licensed pharmacist. After working days at Elizabeth City Hall, he would work evenings and weekends in two Elizabeth-based pharmacies -- The Prescription Service, of which he was owner, and Lenzen’s Prescription Service of which he was co-owner. He served as president of the Union County Pharmacists Association and treasurer of the N.J. Pharmacists Association. Additionally he served under Mayor Thomas G. Dunn as director of Health, Welfar &Housing from 1969 to 1992. During that time, he co-founded and served as president of the Union County Meals on Wheels, established the city’s Emergency Medical Services, directed the response to the nationally spotlighted chemical control explosion and developed the Senior Transportation of Elizabeth program. He also served as president of the Noise Control Association of USA, president of the N.J. Health Officers Association, president of the Union County Heath Officers Association and president of the Union County Advisory Council on Aging.
After a brief turn in the private sector, Mr. Surmay returned to city hall in 1998 and served under Mayor J. Christian Bollwage as health officer until his retirement in 2013. In recognition of his public service, he received numerous awards including the N.J. Health Officer Association’s Frank J. Osborne Award for Meritorious Achievement in Public Health, N.J. Pharmacists Association’s William H. McNeil Award for Outstanding Community Service, the Catholic Community service Award for Spirit of Volunteerism and the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals’ Bowl of Hygeia Award for N.J. Pharmacist of the Year.
Mr. Surmay was a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Byzantine Catholic Church and St. Genevieve Parish, Elizabeth, where he was an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. He was also active as a member of the Holy Name Society and the Nocturnal Adoration Society; served on the Commission for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Public Policy Committee of the New Jersey Catholic Conference.
Mr. Surmay is survived by his wife, Louise Lisnock Surmay; two daughters and two sons and their spouses and seven grandchildren.
Burial was in Fairview Cemetery, Westfield.
Memorial donations may be made to one of the following organizations: michaeljfox.org, campnejeda.org, eparchyofpassaic.com or bcs.edu.[[In-content Ad]]