Benjamin W. Timberman, an extremely popular local official known as “Gentle Ben” during his 24 years as a Salem County Freeholder, passed away on Tuesday night. He was 86.
A Democrat, Timberman was elected freeholder in 1971, and was re-elected seven times before retiring in 1995. His daughter, Beth, followed in his footsteps and began her own four-term career as a freeholder in 2003.
His only electoral defeat came in 1991, when he challenged Republican incumbents Jack Collins and Gary Stuhltrager for the New Jersey State Assembly. This was the year Republicans swept control of both houses of the Legislature after Gov. Jim Florio’s tax increases. Timberman lost by over 9,000 votes.