Ralph W. Voorhees


The late Ralph W. Voorhees graduated from Rutgers in 1948, although his close association with the university remained intact until his death in November.

Steve Goodman

Remembering Ralph W. Voorhees
May 4, 1926–November 4, 2013


Rutgers lost a special member of its family recently when alumnus Ralph W. Voorhees passed away on November 4. He was 87. A devoted altruist, leader of companies and philanthropies, and a tireless supporter of Rutgers, which generations of his family attended, Voorhees ED’48 is the namesake behind many fine institutions at the university. His late brother, Alan, and he established the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers–New Brunswick in the 1970s, named after their widowed mother who raised three children during the Depression. In the 1990s, Ralph Voorhees helped found the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy in New Brunswick. And to honor Voorhees’s vision, civic engagement, and service commitment, the Voorhees family established the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement in 2011 at the Bloustein School. He also acted as chair of the Rutgers University Foundation’s Board of Overseers, served on the President’s Council Fundraising Committee, and co-chaired the 25th Anniversary of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum.

Voorhees chaired the boards of United Way of Central New Jersey, Family Counseling Services of Middlesex County, the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and the New Brunswick Cultural Center, among other organizations. His civic involvement began in 1958 as a councilman in Highland Park, New Jersey, where he lived for most of his life. His volunteerism spanned education, health, urban renewal, local Democratic politics, and religion. For it, he was recognized in New Jersey—and nationwide. President Ronald Reagan honored him with the U.S. Presidential Recognition Award for volunteerism in 1983; he was one of the first to receive the distinction. A year later, the Rutgers Alumni Association named him a Loyal Son; in 1994, the Rutgers University Alumni Federation gave Voorhees its Meritorious Service Award; and in 1996, he was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni. At the time of his retirement in 2001, Voorhees was senior vice president for investments at Paine Webber, completing a 45-year career in the brokerage business.

Voorhees also was a trustee of Voorhees College, a predominately African-American college in Denmark, South Carolina, founded with money donated by his great uncle and great aunt. He received the Keeper of the Flame Award for continuing his family’s legacy of supporting the college.