William Lehr

Obituary of William C. Lehr


William “Bill” Charles Lehr passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 3, 2021 at Morristown Medical Center. He had shared 94 years with family and friends.  


Born in Buffalo, NY to the late George and Emily Lehr, he was one of two sons raised in Kenmore, NY. After graduating high school, Bill earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from the University of Buffalo. He later went on to earn two Master’s Degrees; first, at the Princeton Theological Seminary with a Master’s of Divinity and then at New York University with a Master’s in Public Administration.


William Lehr and Phyllis Eschrich married on October 11, 1951, while Bill was at Princeton. They spent their honeymoon in a tent, initiating decades of camping trips and hiking in the mountains. Bill spent fourteen years in the ministry before turning to socially oriented non-profit agencies as a public administrator, although he maintained his membership in the Presbyterian church throughout his life. He worked in drug rehabilitation and penal reform, retiring in 1988 as the Director of the Mental Health Association of Morris County. Bill was engaged in social justice issues throughout his life, bookending his activism with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s and as a founding member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at the Oaks at Denville. He was a tireless autodidact particularly interested in history and politics.


Bill’s drive to explore and experience was shared with Phyl and their three children. Summers spent camping in the mountains, and later, trips to National Parks in the American West and to Europe fed his curiosity and drive to understand the world and its people. Although saddened by his passing, we take comfort in knowing that his legacy of love and the window he opened for his wife and children on the natural and social world is secure.


Bill is survived by his wife of 69 years, Phyllis; his children, Elizabeth Lehr, Becky Kunkel and her husband Richard, and William “Ben” Lehr and his wife Cathy; his grandchildren, Peter Rockermann and his wife Brianna, Amy Fiorentino and her husband Paul, and Sean Lehr-Nuth and his wife Sara Crawford; his great-grandchildren, Leia Leviathan and Sophia and Isabella Fiorentino; his brother-in-law, Milton Eschrich and his wife Patty; and his friends.

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