Lucille M. Kiernan
October 18, 1926-December 25, 2019
Lucille M. Kiernan, a longtime resident of Ridgewood whose long, full life was dedicated to her husband, their 11 children and to community service for those most in need, died peacefully on Christmas morning at The Cupola in Paramus, which had been her home for many years. She was 93.
Mrs. Kiernan and her late husband, Garvin P Kiernan, established their first home in Ridgewood in the early 1950s in The Lawns, a new development of affordable Cape Cod style houses along Grove Street that were built with returning soldiers and their young families in mind. The Kiernans attended Mt. Carmel Church where in 1956, Mrs. Kiernan was the vice-grand regent of the parish’s newly formed court of the Catholic Daughters of America, supporting education and charitable causes. She was later active in the League of Women Voters and was a devoted follower of current affairs, especially happenings in The Village. Throughout her life she had a daily newspaper delivered to her door, which she read from cover to cover.
Mrs. Kiernan’s many years of volunteer work focused on providing services to individuals and families in her community who were most in need of help with their day to day lives.
In 1971, Mrs. Kiernan, became the first chairman of the Board of Directors of Community Meals Inc, a volunteer project set up to deliver meals to elderly and disabled people who could not shop or prepare food for themselves. Four clients received the first “Meals on Wheels” delivery in November 1971. Last year, more than 21,000 meals were delivered to an average of 86 clients in Ridgewood and surrounding communities.
When she retired in 1975 from Community Meals, the Ridgewood Sunday News wrote in an editorial that Mrs. Kiernan “epitomizes the myriad selfless individuals who deserve kudos for a job well done.” She guided the program from its early days “with patience and perseverance,” the newspaper said.
In 1978, Mrs. Kiernan, whose youngest child Sarah was disabled, was appointed to a new “Advisory Board for Handicapped Persons” established by the Bergen County Board of Freeholders. The board was instrumental in the establishment of what is now known as the county’ s Division on Disability Services, which focuses on helping persons with disabilities lead independent, productive lives.
Beginning in the 1980s, Mrs. Kiernan began more than 20 years of volunteer work with the Social Service Association of Ridgewood and Vicinity, a community and family service agency that provides assistance to needy families including food, emergency rent and utility funds, and other support services. She served in various capacities during those years, including terms as vice-President and later President of the organization.
Mrs. Kiernan grew up in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, where she attended the public high school and was admired as an accomplished basketball player. A newspaper article at the time reported that when Lucille Bell was called up as a substitute in a local game “she put on the best display of the season” scoring 12 of 23 winning points. In what was no doubt a thrill for a teenage girl in those days, Miss Bell was selected to represent the yearbook staff at a “junior press conference “ at the CBS radio studio in New York featuring a young singer from Hoboken NJ —Frank Sinatra.
After high school, Mrs. Kiernan graduated from what was then the Laboratory Institute of Fashion Merchandising in New York City, and worked in some of the major department stores in Manhattan at the time, including Bond’s, McCreery’s and Lord and Taylor on Fifth Avenue. She married Garvin Kiernan, whom she met on a blind date, on June 5, 1949. They were together for 63 years. If Mrs. Kiernan had a favorite place—other than Ridgewood—it was down the shore, in Avalon, New Jersey, where she spent many summer vacations with her family. For the past 15 years, Mrs. Kiernan lived a quiet, independent life at The Cupola in Paramus, in the assisted living community, where she is remembered for her genial personality, and easy manner with friends and with staff. The Kiernan children are deeply grateful to their mother’s caregivers, from CareOne and Ascend Home Care, who surrounded her with comfort, support and kindness as her long life drew to a close.
Mrs. Kiernan is survived by her daughters Laura Kiernan Beeson of Concord NH and Marguerite Welch of Arlington, Texas and seven sons, Thomas Kiernan of Chesapeake, Va.; Steven Kiernan of Ridgewood; Robert Kiernan of Arlington Va; David Kiernan of Sunderland, Vt; Peter Kiernan of Ridgewood; John Kiernan of Midland Park; and Andrew Kiernan of Nashua, New Hampshire; 17 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Mrs. Kiernan was predeceased by her husband in May 2012, and their daughters Sarah, who was 36, and Debra, who died in infancy.