Kenneth Erb, 66, of Sewaren, NJ, loving husband of Anne Lemay, died at home from natural causes in the early hours of Saturday, May 9, after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
Born in Teaneck, NJ, of the late Edward P. Erb and Irene Ferriell, he grew up in nearby Closter and was a graduate of Northern Valley Regional High School - Demarest. He always said that he got his love of music from his father and the craziness to be a musician from his mother.
He graduated from Westminster Choir College in Princeton with the goal of living a life in music, and that is what he did. His 34-year music teaching career began in the Carteret public schools, but it wasn’t long before he began teaching in the Elizabeth Public School system, where he taught all grade levels throughout the course of his career. In addition to giving private voice and guitar lessons, he performed regularly as a folksinger and sang with various choirs, including the Symposium Singers, the United Methodist Church of Summit, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Gladstone. He was granted membership in the St. Dunstan’s Choir Guild in 2010. A veteran performer at Plays-in-the-Park in Edison, he appeared in many shows over a period of 20 years, including Candide!, Camelot, Fiddler on the Roof, The Merry Widow, The Student Prince, and The Pirates of Penzance,and he also directed a madrigal group that performed during some of the shows. He and Anne appeared together at various times as singer/storytellers at such venues as the Red Mill Museum Village in Clinton and the New Jersey Storytelling Festival.
He loved traveling and enjoyed several trips to Europe to perform with choirs or visit museums and attend music events, and loved to tell stories of his trips. In recent years, he traveled with Anne to Atlanta, Utah, Colorado, and New England, especially to his favorite village, Rockport,
Always a lover of ships and sailing, Ken volunteered along with his wife at the Seamen’s Church Institute in Port Newark. Together, they also served on the art gallery committee of the Nails in the Wall Gallery, a Ministry of St. Luke’s, in Metuchen.
He took great joy in his stepsons, Jonathan Zipf, of Metuchen, and Benjamin Zipf of New York City; a son-in-law, J.D. Barnea, also of New York City; his loving “Big Sis” Suzanne Whiddon (Don Grinar), of Vero Beach, FL; a brother, Gary Erb, of Boulder, CO; a nephew, Jay Whiddon
(Jacy) and great-niece Jaya, also of Vero Beach; his treasured cats; his sister Suzanne’s cooking; his fellow choir members; and many, many friends.
He will be remembered for his dry “killer” wit, his kindness, his rich voice, and the laugh that was as big as his heart. Always a teacher, he willingly taught whatever was needed, whether it was how to rig a boat, how to drive a car, how to string a classical guitar, and how to stay calm in a
crisis. He will be sorely missed by all who love him, but most especially by his wife. Burial will be private, with a celebration of his life to be held in the future when all can gather together again. In lieu of flowers, donations to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
(www.nationalmssociety.org) would be appreciated.