Theodore Gustav Koven, former President of LO Koven and Brother and former mayor of Tewksbury Township, died at home on October 22, surrounded by his loving family. He was born on March 31, 1934 in New York City, the oldest child of Gustav Herman Koven, II and Jane Crowley Koven. Ted was named after his uncle, a mountaineer who died tragically during a scientific expedition on Mt. McKinley in 1932. Ted, Gay, Connie, Gus and Tom spent their childhood on Dickson’s Mill Road in Green Village, where Ted’s love of open, rural countryside was first awakened.
Ted attended Peck School, Pingry, The Gunnery, and St. Lawrence University. Ted sailed each summer on his family’s ketch with his parents, including a trans-Atlantic journey in 1952. He also sailed extensively throughout the Caribbean. Drafted into the US Army, Ted spent 1956 at Ft. Dix and the following year stationed in Worms am Rhein as part of the 196th Ordinance Detachment where they helped set up the first Nike base in Europe.
Ted returned to the States and, in 1959, joined his father at LO Koven and Brother, a steel fabricating company started by his grandfather in 1881. He was President of the company until he retired in 1992. Ted met Stephanie Van Rensselaer at a party in New Vernon and they were married at St. Bernard’s Church on July 15, 1961. A year later they bought their house in Mountainville where Ted and Stephanie raised their children — Serena Koven Arnett of Tewksbury, Theodore Gustav Koven, III of Springtown, PA, and Stephanie Henriette Koven of New York City — and where they lived for the past 56 years.
Ted and Stephanie loved Tewksbury and they actively served the community in a variety of ways. Ted was on the Tewksbury Board of Health for seventeen years. He spent six years on the Planning Board and seven years on the Township Committee, including two terms as Mayor of Tewksbury. During his time as mayor, Ted spearheaded efforts to preserve open land in Tewksbury, including the purchase of the Christie Hoffman Farm, and several other land parcels which are now enjoyed by all. From 1963 to 2007, Ted was on the Board of Trustees of the Upper Raritan Watershed Association, including president of the organization in 1985 and 1986. He was an enthusiastic volunteer at New Jersey Audubon and a Trustee for 20 years. In 1993, Ted founded the Tewksbury Land Trust, which has helped conserve over 700 acres of land.
He also served on the Board of Trustees and the executive and building committees of the Newark Museum from 1992 to 2013.
In addition to his volunteer interests, Ted was a runner, mountaineer, bicyclist, soccer player and New York Cosmos fan, bee keeper, chef, gardener, and birder. Ted’s Suffolk sheep with their Swiss mountain bells in the meadow have given enjoyment to all who pass by and fresh eggs from his chickens could be bought on a bench in front of the house. He was also an avid hunter, serving as Trustee, Secretary and whipper-in for the Tewksbury Foots Bassets for over fifty years. Each Fall, Ted’s friends gathered at the house for four days of deer hunting. Starting in 1992, Ted, his son Ted, and Gunnery classmate Harry T. Jones took several cross-country bike rides, and he organized family hiking trips in the Adirondacks, the White Mountains, and with his brother Gus in the Swiss Alps. Ted loved his home in Mountainville, and enjoyed summers on Block Island and winters in Sanibel, Florida and Bequia, West Indies.
In addition to his three children, Ted was a loving grandfather to Roderic Ladew O’Connor, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer O’Connor, Jane Koven O’Connor, Theodore Harold Koven, Quinn Hendrik Koven, and Arabella Koven Katz. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie, and two brothers, Gustav H. Koven III of Green Village and Thomas Koven of Hampton, NJ. His sisters, Gay Koven Klipstein and Constance Koven Stransky, predeceased him. Ted was at the center of a large and loving family, including many nieces and nephews, and a wide circle of friends, many of whom gathered at Easter each year for lunch and baseball in the sheep field.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Ted’s memory to the Tewksbury Land Trust, PO Box 490, Oldwick, NJ 08858.
A memorial service will be held at the Lamington Presbyterian Church at 11 am on Saturday, November 4.