102 Years on This Earth ~ On February 7, 2021, we lost a man who was a hero to D&R Greenway, to his hometown of Bridgewater Township, NJ, and to our nation. At age 102, World War II veteran Bob Vaucher left this earth Sunday after a short illness. Bob’s contribution to our nation included flying 117 combat missions in World War II and flying the lead plane in the “show of force” at the formal Surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945. Watch a short video that tells the story of how he was honored last September on the 75th anniversary with a chance to fly a B-29 fighter plane one last time.
Bob told me that during the war he would sit with his comrades at night and talk about what they would do if they made it home. Their commitment: We will do something to improve our communities.
His ultimate community project was working with D&R Greenway and 77 neighbors to preserve land near his home in Bridgewater.
The land had been a camp for the Continental Army under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Last year, Bridgewater Township and D&R Greenway dedicated the protected property. A sign for the ‘Vaucher Revolutionary Preserve at Steele’s Gap‘ was erected across from Bob’s home on Foothill Road, along the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail that commemorates the march to victory and independence at Yorktown, VA.
Bob’s friend, David Stempien, placed a memorial display at our signature sign on Foothill Road.
One of the last honors for Bob was a portrait painted by James Fiorentino, D&R Greenway’s Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. James recently described what it meant to him to paint a hero:
“It was an honor to have painted Lt. Col Bob Vaucher, and a privilege to have met him and his family on multiple occasions; to have heard his amazing life stories firsthand. To celebrate Bob’s life by painting his portrait was important for me – it’s a way to share his story and preserve his legacy. My hope is that this portrait will reflect both the pride Bob felt in his Hall of Fame military career and service to our country, and his life-long commitment to preserving the land and our history. I know I share the sentiment of many in this community when I say that those of us who live in freedom will always be grateful to the heroes who helped preserve it, and Lt. Col. Bob Vaucher will forever be one of those heroes.”
During a meeting of the Bridgewater Township Council, held virtually at 7:30pm on Thursday February 11, 2021, D&R Greenway Land Trust President & CEO Linda Mead and artist James Fiorentino paid tribute to the life, legacy and land preservation efforts of Lt. Col. Vaucher. Fiorentino also shared with the Bridgewater community Vaucher’s portrait, which he completed and shared with the 102 year-old WWII veteran and his family just days before his passing. Click to watch/listen here.
D&R Greenway Land Trust, an accredited nonprofit, has saved over 21,000 acres of New Jersey land since its founding in 1989. By preserving land for life and creating public trails, it gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. The land trust’s preserved farms and community gardens provide local organic food for our neighbors—including those most in need. Through strategic land conservation and stewardship, D&R Greenway combats climate change, protects birds and wildlife, and ensures clean drinking water for future generations. D&R Greenway’s mission is centered in connecting land with people from all walks of life.
D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, home to its art galleries in Princeton, is currently closed to ensure health and safety due to COVID, although its outdoor trails and labyrinth are open. Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages and www.drgreenway.org to learn about the organization’s latest news and virtual programs. D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, Princeton NJ 08540. Best way to reach D&R Greenway Staff during the COVID pandemic is by info e-mail, available on their website.
James Fiorentino, considered one of the leading artists depicting sports today, was also the youngest artist inducted into the prestigious New York Society of illustrators in 1998, along with Rockwell, Pyle, Wyeth, Kent, Peaks, Holland and Fuchs. James is a member of the New Jersey Watercolor Society, Garden State Watercolor Society, American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society, Salmagundi Club, Society of Animal Artists and Artists for Conservation. James is also a trustee of the Raptor Trust of NJ and D & R Greenway Land Trust.