Selfless service to community

Photos courtesy Kevin Kennedy Grace Purdue (l.) Edward Saegers Sr. (r.)
Photos courtesy Kevin Kennedy
Grace Purdue (l.) Edward Saegers Sr. (r.)


Two longtime Belleville civic activists were feted by the Kevin G. Kennedy Civic Association at the organization’s 22nd annual scholarship breakfast held May 17 at The Chandelier.

Grace Purdue, recipient of the 2015 Humanitarian Award, and Edward J. Saegers Sr., winner of the 2015 Community Service Award, were congratulated on their accolades by a resolution adopted by the Belleville Township Council May 12.

As noted by the council resolution, Purdue, a graduate of School 4, Belleville High School and the Berkeley Secretarial School, was involved in school-related activities serving as a class mother, Den Mother of Scout Pack 307 at School 7, president of the school PTA, vice president of the Junior High PTA, and charter president of the Belleville High School Home and School Association.

In 1973, Purdue received the Belleville High Special Award for Outstanding Service and in 1982 she was elected to the Belleville Board of Education where she served as board president.

Purdue is a charter member of the Belleville Music Parents Association, Belleville SEPPO (Special Education Parents Professional Organization) which sponsored the local Special Olympics, and served on the Essex County Educational Services Commission, Citizens Advisory Budget Committee, Belleville Advisory Council and Belleville Rent Leveling Board.

In 1984, the Belleville Chamber of Commerce selected Purdue as Woman of the Year. She has volunteered at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville for 25 years, serving as Auxiliary president and as a member of the board of directors. In 1992, she became the first woman member of the Kiwanis Club and is a past president.

As highlighted in the council resolution, Edward J. Saegers Sr., born in Lima, Ohio, to Edward and Anita DeJohn Saegers, attended Lima Central Catholic High School and then served in the U.S. Navy. He is a member of the Catholic War Veterans Father Owens Post 1187 and American Legion Post 105.

Saegers began his service to Belleville in the 1980s with the Belleville Chamber of Commerce and through the years has been involved in many ways with the community, including chairing the kickoff breakfast celebrating the township’s 150th birthday, supporting St. Peter’s Parish, serving the local Lions Club, Knights of Columbus and Irish American Association.

In 2012, Saegers was named Man of the Year by the Belleville Irish American Association and, most recently, he served as the sergeant-at-arms of Newark’s 80th anniversary St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

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