Bruce Medley, Longtime Recreation Coordinator, Dies At 63

Bruce Medley, second from left, receiving a commendation at a 2016 Township Council meeting.

Bruce Medley, a Hall of Fame basketball player and the township’s longtime recreation coordinator, died May 26 at St. Peter’s University Medical Center. He was 63.

Medley served as recreation coordinator since 2002. He was also a member of the township’s Municipal Alliance for the Prevention of Substance Abuse.

Township Recreation Director Beau Byrtus said Medley “was a man whose presence filled a room the second he walked in.”

“Whether with a joke, a pat on the shoulder or his infectious smile you knew you knew he was a truly caring soul,” Byrtus wrote in an email. “The impact that he has had on youth in the Township and around the state is immeasurable. He inspired the youth of Franklin Township to always strive to be better.”

“If you ever had the opportunity to walk through a park or the halls of Franklin Schools you would always hear “hey, Mr. Bruce….”, you would stop and invariably end up in a lengthy conversation,” Byrtus wrote. “Bruce would always ask about their family and genuinely wanted to know how everyone was. The legacy left behind by Bruce is carried in the hearts of everyone whose life he touched.”

Former Recreation Director Alice Osipowitz said Medley was an “instrumental” part of the department.

“Bruce’s athletic background made him a natural to oversee many of the departments programs,” she said in an email. “You could find Bruce at Teen Rec, our Basketball programs, at our summer camps, the Williams Park Pool, a variety of other youth sports programs, special events and many of our programs for the 55+ population.”

Medley became the Franklin Youth Initiative Coordinator in 2008, Osipowitz said.

“Bruce’s efforts were recognized with awards from the Somerset County Youth Services Commission and The New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association,” she wrote. “In the past 10 years Bruce was the driving force behind the Boy’s Council program, an evidence-based mentoring program that positively impacted the lives of 1,000 young men in 6-12 grade.”

“Bruce was a gentle giant in more ways than one,” she wrote. “His generous heart supported many young people that were facing challenging times. I believe that Bruce set the bar high and challenged young people to raise the bar and it was not his stature that demanded respect it was his ability to listen when needed and his faith in young people  that inspired them to make positive changes in their lives. Bruce was always there when needed, always willing to lend a helping hand, and always a team player. He will be truly missed by his Recreation Family.”

Osipowitz wrote that Medley “was more of a welcoming person than anyone I ever met. In addition to coordinating well-run programs, Bruce made you feel part of the team from staff, to students and parents you were important to him.”

“He greeted everyone with a smile, a good morning and welcome to the program,” she wrote. “He tried to make sure that everyone started off the day or program on a good foot.  He was also there to give guidance along the way and send you home with a smile.  In addition to his focus on youth programs he was also the big guy at the Senior Center (where the Rec Offices are located) that gave you a warm welcome every day. He could cheer you up from a mile away and the seniors loved him.”

“Bruce was always there for vulnerable populations,” Osipowitz wrote. “Whether through programs or behind the scenes, Bruce went above and beyond to support individuals and families experiencing  challenging times.”

Born in East Orange, Medley graduated from East Orange High School where he excelled at basketball.

Medley attended Morris County College and Ramapo College, where he majored in Business Administration and Substance Abuse Education.

Medley’s skills as a basketball athlete blossomed at Ramapo, where he was a member of the 1,0000 point club, as well as having grabbed more than 500 rebounds. He won a Division III All American award and was inducted into the Ramapo Athletic Hall of Fame.

Medley briefly played with the New Jersey Nets after graduation, then pursued his basketball career in South America. Returning to the U.S., Medley served as Assistant Coach for the Ramapo basketball program from 1994 to 1996.

Medley began his professional career as a case worker for Catholic Charities in Edison, Patterson and Bridgewater, but then switched to recreation, joining teh township’s department in 2002.

Medley also served as an Event Staff Supervisor at Rutgers University, where he was responsible for escorting and accompanying coaching staff and guests during athletic events.

He was predeceased by his parents Walter Medley Sr. and Hazel Medley. He was also predeceased by his sibling James “Artie” Medley.

He is survived by his longtime girlfriend Jennifer Fitzpatrick of Somerset, and his children Jazmine White of Newark, LaMont McKay of Paterson and Danel Allen of North Carolina . He is also survived by his siblings Walter Medley Jr., and Maxine Medley and his grandchildren Hailey, Jayden and Asani and step-children, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Public visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. June 7 and 8 at the Gleason Funeral Home 1360 Hamilton Street in Somerset. A private funeral service will be held by request of the family.

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