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Township Historian, Former Mayor Robert Mettler’s Life Celebrated By Friends, Family

Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine speaks during the March 14 memorial service for Robert Mettler.

Friends and family gathered at the Hillsborough Reformed Church March 14 to say goodbye to former Township Councilman, Mayor and longtime community volunteer, Robert Mettler.

Mettler, 76, died March 9.

Mettler served on the Council at various times during the late 1970s through the 2000s, and was a member of various boards and commissions, including the Historic Preservation Advisory Board, the Planning Board and the township’s Redevelopment Agency.

Mettler was also considered the township historian, being an East Millstone resident whose family lineage extends back to Franklin’s earliest days.

Among those eulogizing Mettler was Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine, who called Mettler his political mentor.

“I smile when I think that he was a mentor to me,” Levine said. “Integrity is never out of date, that’s what I learned from Bob.”

“We need not ask why we miss Bob Mettler, we need not ask why we loved Bob Mettler, we need only ask, don’t you love what Bob stood for, because we all know,” Levine said.

“Bob Mettler is one of the few who rise above the political rancor that tears us apart,” he said. “We all knew that Bob was respected, no, he was revered, by both sides of the aisle.”

Levine said that the lessons he learned from Mettler were that, “Kindness is always strength, gentleness is never weakness, statesmanship is always the goal and the gold standard.”

“The eternal flame of yours burns brightly with its glorious but gentle glow,” Levine said.

Mettler’s son, Sid Prasad, said Mettler was “the most kind, selfless human being that I ever met. He somehow knew how to get his point across in a manner which made you believe it was your decision in the first place.”

Mettler “had a passion for the history of the town” and was a “walking book of knowledge,” Prasad said.

Also eulogizing Mettler was Yannie Ten Broeke, the daughter of Mettler’s close friend Jan Ten Broeke, who passed away earlier this year.

Ten Broeke said that it was “fitting” that Mettler’s memorial service was held on what is called “Pi Day” for two reasons.

“One is the rich nerdiness of the day, but also, it’s most often celebrated by eating pie, and … it’s been noted that Bob’s sweet tooth was legendary, and he always had room for dessert,” she said.

Noting that her father and Mettler played chess weekly for more than 30 years, Ten Broeke said that she did not know when the first game was played, but did know that the last game was played shortly before her father’s death.

“They set up the table, they set up the chess board, the cookies were laid out, and my mom overheard my dad say, Bob, I don’t want to play today, I just want to talk,” she said. “And there’s nobody left to remember exactly what was said, but we all know from Bob’s great intellect and capacity for knowledge that it was probably a wonderful conversation about world history, local history, natural history.”

Mettler’s friend Jim Karwoski talked about the lengthy conversation he had with Mettler over the years.

“These days, when civility sometimes is defined by its absence, it was always there with Bob,” he said. “Civility found not only a friend, but an actual home with Bob and it was what cemented those conversations and made them memorable.”

“I think his greatest contribution to all of us is that he tied us all together,” he said.

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Fred Mueller, talked about Mettler’s devotion to his religious beliefs.

“To be in the presence of Robert was to be in the presence of greatness, and it didn’t take long to learn that this greatness came from his submission to Jesus Christ,” he said.

“His life was not his own, but belonged to God,” Mueller said. “And he gave that life, time and talent back to God every chance he had.”

The Franklin Reporter and Advocate did a live stream interview of Mettler on Halloween several years ago, in which he talked about various graves at Cedar Hill Cemetery:

https://business.facebook.com/188444624541728/videos/1714071535312355/

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