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Pingry Remembers Honorary Trustee Frederick Bartenstein, Jr.

Mr. Fred Bartenstein, a Pingry trustee from 1964-1994, Chair of the Board from 1979-1984, an Honorary Trustee since 1994, and the recipient of an honorary Pingry diploma, passed away on January 12, 2018, at age 100 in Mendham Township, NJ. He is the dedicatee of the Basking Ridge Campus (the dedication was held May 12, 1984), recognizing his "leadership, determination, and patience" to make the School's move from Hillside to Bernards Township a reality. The Greatest Respect: Pingry at 150 Years describes his election to the Board in 1964: "A quiet, unassuming man, Bartenstein was highly respected and extremely capable. Nevertheless, it is probably safe to say that his fellow board members would have been astounded at the impact the presence of this meticulous and soft-spoken individual would have on the future of the school."

The story of the campus move has been well-documented in Pingry publications; it is an understatement to say that it was a time filled with uncertainty because of all the challenges that had to be overcome, such as fundraising, finding a buyer for the Hillside Campus, establishing logistics for the new building, and construction costs. That the dream was fulfilled is attributable, in large part, to Mr. Bartenstein's leadership to coordinate the ideas of Pingry's trustees, negotiate with a lengthy list of planning boards, engineering departments, and other agencies, and oversee many other aspects of the move.

As Honorary Trustee William V. Engel '67 summarized in a 2009 Pingry Review article about the campus move, "[Fred Bartenstein] started to organize the problems, and then attack them. He devoted his life to the move...through countless obstacles and countless frustrations. Nobody else had the combination of ability, persistence, intelligence, diplomacy, and time to get all of that done. Those of us who have been Board chairs subsequent to Fred all consider him our role model."

For those who wonder about the source of Mr. Bartenstein's dedication, his essay in that same 2009 issue sheds some light: "From the time I had become a trustee, and even more in the years of concentrating on the campus move, I had come to know the intensity of regard, respect, and affection former students feel for their school. Germinating in the classroom, taking root in students, growing among alumni, it is real and remarkable. To someone who had never attended the school, it became a given that the entire Pingry community would stand behind its school in a crisis. That also must have become a given, implicitly at least, in the minds of my fellow board members, all of whom stuck with the project through thick and thin. Leaps could be taken." As part of the fundraising efforts, he also contributed to the New Building Fund.

Mr. Bartenstein attended Washington and Lee University (A.B. and LL.B.). After brief service with the U.S. Navy, he joined Merck & Co., Inc. as an attorney in the Legal Department. He served as Merck's General Counsel from 1953-1961 and spent the last 11 years of his 30-year career as Administrative Vice President of Merck, responsible for corporate legal, patent, public relations, economic research, and long-range planning. He was also President of the Merck Company Foundation (1970-72) and active with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. After retirement, he engaged in consulting, historical research, and board service.

He and his wife Isabel donated the property for Kendal at Lexington (Virginia) Continuing Care Retirement Community. Both were conservationists, protecting family properties in both New Jersey and Virginia, as well as leaders in efforts to preserve New Jersey's Great Swamp and the New Jersey Brigade Revolutionary War Winter Encampment Site, now part of Morristown National Historical Park. The couple researched and co-authored "N.J. Brigade Encampment in the Winter of 1779-1780"—honored as the most distinguished article to appear in New Jersey History journal in 1968—and a book, New Jersey's Revolutionary War Powder Mill, in 1975.

Their marriage lasted 51 years, from 1947 until Isabel's death in 1998. Survivors include four sons: Frederick III '68 (Joy), Arthur '70 (Margoth), John '72 (Irene), and Thomas '75 (Ana Julia); seven grandchildren: Melissa, Anna (Fabio), Stephen (Amy), Christopher, Diana, Isabella, and Thomas; and three great-grandchildren: Zachary, Calista, and Marshal.

Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer,