It was a lucky day for the Township of West Milford when Bev Lujbli moved here nearly 55 years ago.
That year, she not only volunteered with the West Milford First Aid Squad for 50 years to the day, but also worked with a group that got the West Milford Animal Shelter up and running.
In addition, she held the challenging job of township dog catcher (as the title for Animal Control Officer was initially) for more than 40 years.
The 2018 Mary Hasse Lifetime Volunteer
Lujbli was awarded the township’s highest volunteerism honor in April 2018 when she was named the Mary Hasse Lifetime Volunteer for that year.
Born in the Bronx, the daughter of Fred and Charlotte (Kolb) Borchers, Bev was still an infant when the family moved to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Two more children (Fred Jr. and Susan) were born to the couple.
Bev graduated from Arlington High School in 1960. She was married in 1962 and moved to Maywood. A son, Erik, was born to the couple.
Her family moves to West Milford in late 1967
In November 1967, the Lujbli family moved to West Milford. Daughter Tanya was born in 1970.
Bev is now a proud grandmother with three grandchildren. Hannah lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, and is starting graduate school. Jacob and Ben attend Warwick Valley High School. Jacob is a senior and will be graduating this year.
In the fall of 1970 Bev spotted a small sign on the Newfoundland First Aid Squad building seeking volunteers for the squad. She called the phone number on the sign and was soon signed up for a basic First Aid course with Jack Cronen as instructor. Now retired in upstate New York, Cronen joined the squad in 1964 and served as a volunteer for 47 years.
Bev was one of three women in Cronen’s course. The other two dropped out but she held on until she completed all requirements. She joined the squad in 1970.
Over the 50 years she has been a member, treasurer, service secretary, financial secretary and recording secretary. She also spent many, many, many years as captain.
Bev went to New York City to help after 9/11. She and three other squad members were sent as a crew to stand by on West Street.
Those early friendships
Lujbli recalls her earliest friends in the township being Barbara Corter and Kathy Levesque. She needed a sitter for her children as she was still working part time, answered an ad and hired Barbara.
Through the First Aid Squad she met Kathy, another volunteer, who asked her if she wanted to be part of a dog rescue group that was looking to have the township council allow them in the Animal Shelter. That effort was successful and in February 1976 they received that permission.
The township dismissed the man who was working as dog catcher. The group ran the shelter until July 1976 when David Naxwell was hired. In January 1979 the township hired Bev in a part-time position to help Maxwell. In 198, she was hired in a full-time position that she stayed in until May 2019 (40 years and five months.)
Retirement celebration will be held next year
Since the West Milford First Aid Squad is not having a dinner dance this year, Lujbli’s retirement celebration will be on hold until next year.