The Jersey Journal
79, a founder and tireless advocate of Liberty State Park, will be at 4 p.m.
Monday at Greenville Memorial Home, Jersey City. He died Thursday at Greenville
Hospital, Jersey City.
distinguished himself at home and at work, Zapp,
a lifelong Jersey City resident, will be best be remembered for his role in
keeping the former railroad wasteland that was to become Liberty State Park from
being bought up by oil and coal industrialists.
Zapp, his wife, Audrey, and another Jersey City
environmentalist, the late Morris Pesin, worked tirelessly to preserve the park
as government-protected land. The two families would "go down in history
for creating and maintaining a people's park," Congressman Robert Menendez
(D-Union City). Few people, he said, can claim their life's work will "face
the test of generations."
lost an environmental champion with the passing of Warren
said Hudson County Executive Bob Janiszewski. "The park will stand as a
perpetual memorial to his commitment."
recalled how Zapp
was rarely seen without a camera slung over his shoulder. "There he
was-capturing nature on film in the heart of one of the most densely populated
urban areas in the country," he said.
Zapp's photos were an integral piece in the fund-raising for
Liberty State Park. Zapp
presented them to heighten awareness of Jersey City's natural beauty, as well
the need to preserve it. Among his photographs were shots of children playing in
the spray of fire hydrants, and countless landscapes with cityscapes as
backdrops. After seeing the pictures and hearing the Zapps'
compelling arguments to turn the land into a public park, officials from the
state and the Department of the Interior eventually backed the project and
agreed to lend the necessary money.
Zapp then documented the park's transformation by
photographing the various stages of its development. The photographs were
eventually displayed in a one-man exhibit at the Capital Rotunda in Trenton.
hard to de-couple Audrey and Warren,"
said Greg Remaud, president of the Liberty State Park Conservancy. "Had
they not been involved, there would be more commercial development, fewer birds,
fewer trees and fewer natural vistas."
Zapp's presence was also felt by Jersey City's fire
department, who named him honorary deputy chief in 2000 in recognition for his
role as the department's official historian. Over the years, Zapp
kept track of the notable deeds of firefighters and built a photo archive. He
was appointed the department's official fire photographer in 1959. Numerous
local newspapers, as well as national publications, such as Firefighters
magazine, published his work.
He was the
last surviving charter member of the Gong Club, now a nationwide service
organization that assists firemen in the active line of duty. In 1950, the group
started shuttling food and supplies to weary firefighters at the scenes of
wife, Audrey, Zapp
was an individual who devoted his whole heart to his passions, be it military
service, the fire department, photography or nature. "He was a man with
many faces," she said, "with many dreams, and with vision."
Zapp was a Marine veteran of World War II, and received a
Purple Heart Medal for his valiant service in the South Pacific. He worked in
the quality control department at Western Electric, Kearny, for 25 years,
retiring in 1972.
was an outstanding gentleman," said longtime co-worker, Grace Stenlake. She
recollected how Zapp
distinguished himself by his kindness and grace. "Everybody was so
impressed with him. They'd say 'Oh, here comes Warren.'
I don't think he had one enemy." In addition to his wife, Zapp
is survived by a son, Rennie; and two grandchildren, of Boulder, Colo.