Sad news out of Ocean County as longtime state Assemblyman Ronald Dancer died July 23 at the age of 73 after a long illness.
The New Egypt native represented the 12th District for nearly 20 years. He served on the Agriculture and Food Security; Military and Veterans’ Affairs; and Tourism, Gaming and the Arts committees.
Dancer was also a longtime advocate of the horse racing industry, and his family are well-known horse breeders in the area. His late father, Stanley Dancer, was an acclaimed racing driver and horse trainer.
The remembrances for the beloved lawmaker came pouring in from both sides of the aisle.
“Ron’s 20 years in the Assembly are marked not only by his tireless efforts to serve his constituents, even during his illness, but his willingness to work across party lines to accomplish what he believed was best for all New Jerseyans,” said Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio, R-23rd District, in a statement. “He was a true patriot, statesman, gentleman, and my good friend. He will be sorely missed.”
“I am saddened by the news that Assemblyman Ron Dancer has passed away,” said Sen. John Bramnick, R-21st District, in a statement. “I simply cannot express my deep respect for this leader. He was truly a man of integrity, civility and love for everyone. Ron Dancer should be a model for all elected officials. I would only hope that people will learn from this great man.”
“Assemblyman Dancer served the people of our legislative district with tireless energy and unwavering commitment. He was a true gentleman in the Legislature,” said Sen. Sam Thompson, R-12the District, in a statement. “It was an honor to have him on our team representing the hard-working residents of the 12h District. He will be missed in the halls of the state house and in the local municipalities he loved.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19the District, issued a statement calling Dancer a “true gentleman in New Jersey politics.”
“In his two decades of public service in the Assembly, Ron Dancer was always someone who strived to work across the aisle,” said Coughlin. “A veteran himself, he leaves behind a legacy of advocacy on behalf of our military men and women. He was also a champion of New Jersey’s agricultural and horse racing communities, and contributed greatly to innovative expansions of our state’s tourism – most recently being the sponsor of legislation that will widen economic opportunity for our wineries and farms.”
Gov. Phil Murphy released a statement saying that he and First Lady Tammy Murphy were saddened to hear of Dancer’s passing.
“True to his roots in one of New Jersey’s storied equestrian racing families, in public service he was a work horse not a show horse,” said Murphy. “A proud veteran with a quiet demeanor and humble nature, Ron built friendships across the aisle. His focus on New Jersey’s agricultural, horse-racing, and tourist industries, and our honored military veterans, leaves a last legacy.”
“His absence will certainly be felt by all of us in the Assembly and by the residents of Ocean County he faithfully served,” Coughlin added. “We extend our most heartfelt prayers to all family and friends mourning him.”
Murphy announced that state flags will be lowered to half-staff July 26 in Dancer’s honor and memory.
“His wife, Brenda, their children and grandchildren, and the entire Dancer family are in all of our thoughts this weekend,” said Murphy.
Editor’s note: The story was updated at 9:45 a.m. ET July 26 to note the date of flags to be lowered to half-staff, which is Tuesday, July 26.