Harry Van Houten Harry Van Houten was born April 17, 1932, in Brooklyn, New York. He was raised there and attended public schools there. He received his bachelor’s degree in education from the State University of New York at Oswego. There, he met Lillian Briner, in the orchestra (he played violin; she played piano and viola.) They married in 1954.
Harry served in the United States Army during the Korean War. Later, he completed his master’s degree at Hofstra University. Early in their careers, Harry and Lillian taught elementary school on Long Island. In 1964, they moved to Franklin Township, in Somerset, New Jersey where they raised their four children.
Harry and Lillian’s membership in the JFK Democratic Club goes back to at least 1967. They served as Democratic Committee Man and Woman for Somerset for many years. Their closest friends, Dave and Tedi DeVries, Russ and Frieda Warner, and Stanley and Bernice Cutler, were all active members. The entire Van Houten family was often involved in helping on the campaigns of Democrats running for office in Franklin.
Harry served on the Franklin Township School Board in the late 1970s; he also served on the Town Council. For many years, he worked at Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) heading the Department of Adult Education. He inspired his children and everyone he knew to be open to new ideas, and curious about the world. His interests were broad, and included music, religion, history, the natural sciences, and, of course, politics.
One achievement of which he was most proud was starting a stringed-instrument program at Franklin High School. Music was always a big part of his life. He and Lillian played duets together (piano and violin) and all his children learned at least two instruments each. He stayed active in the Bound Brook Community Orchestra right up until his death. He was also an active member of the All Saints’ Lutheran Church in Piscataway. As an early adopter of computer technology, he created a website for the church in the late 1990s.
Harry was also very active in the Literacy Volunteers of America. He truly believed in lifelong learning. He did, in fact, expect his children to have “moments of learning” every day (and often asked for them to recount such moments at dinner.) If there was a lunar eclipse or meteor shower, he was the type of father who would wake up everyone in the middle of the night to go outside and see it. He was a wonderful father, friend, and community leader, and he is still dearly missed. Coming soon