Obituary of Phyllis Ruth Lehr
Phyllis Ruth Eschrich Lehr passed away on December 30, 2023. She shared 92 years with family and friends.
Born in Buffalo, NY to the late Milton Eschrich and Olive Roscoe Eschrich, she was their eldest child and only daughter. After graduating high school, she attended Maryville College in
Maryville, Tennessee for one year. She later earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Fairleigh Dickinson University, continuing on to earn a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Seton Hall.
Phyllis Eschrich married her husband, the late William (Bill) Lehr, on October 11, 1951. They spent their honeymoon in a cabin, initiating a lifetime of camping and hiking in the woods. After the wedding, Phyllis interrupted her college studies and moved to Princeton, NJ with Bill as he completed his Master’s in Divinity. In the 1950s, the couple had three children, Elizabeth, Rebecca, and William Ben. Phyllis was a stay-at-home mom until her youngest entered middle school, then returned to college, earning her Bachelor’s degree in the late 1960s. She
immediately began working at Valley Settlement House, then a year later, took a position with the State of New Jersey in the Division of Rehabilitation Services, where she worked as a
caseworker, and later, manager until retirement.
Both at work and in her personal life, Phyllis was devoted to social justice. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. With her husband Bill, she explored the natural world, visiting the Adirondack Mountains frequently, as well National Parks, particularly in the western U.S. Also with Bill, she traveled extensively in Europe and the Caribbean, always in search of the next adventure. Phyl was a sun worshipper and enjoyed the outdoors in all seasons. She loved her home, as well, where she spent time with her children, grandchildren, and great- grandchildren. Her sense of fun was enjoyed by all who knew her. An important aspect of her life was her faith; she was an active member of the Presbyterian Church wherever she lived as an adult, most recently the First Presbyterian Church of Boonton, NJ, where she was an Elder.
Phyllis is survived by her children, Elizabeth Lehr; Becky Kunkel, and her husband Richard; and William Ben Lehr, and his wife Cathy. Phyllis is also survived by her grandchildren, Peter Rockermann and his wife Brianna, Amy Fiorentino and her husband Paul, and Sean Lehr-Nuth; her great-grandchildren Leia Leviathan, Sophia Fiorentino, Isabella Fiorentino, and Miles Rockermann; her brother, Milton “Butch” Eschrich and his wife Patty; and her friends.
The family would like to thank the nursing and other staff at the Oaks of Denville, particularly in the Assisted-Living Unit, and the Hospice team from the VNA of Northern New Jersey for their warmth, humor, and loving dedication to her care.