Former congressman and state Sen. John Adler passed away Monday from complications stemming from a bacterial staph endocarditis infection he contracted last month, according to his family. Adler fought “valiantly” during three weeks to battle this infection.
Adler, a resident of Cherry Hill, most recently represented the 3rd Congressional District.
“We just lost one of the most brilliant leaders that I have ever known and one who worked without stopping for the people of our district,” said Mary Previte, a Haddonfield resident who served with Adler for eight years in the Legislature. “He was absolutely brilliant. He would grasp issues so quickly and then have the gift to put them into understandable language. When we would be together in community meetings, we would go through the district and have hometown meetings to talk with people face-to-face in municipal halls, schools, things of that kind. He knew everything. He was like a walking history book, a walking encyclopedia, just such a knowledge and depth of all the issues. It wasn’t just his own issues; he was an attorney but he could speak intelligently and knowledgeably about a huge range of issues.”
Ed Borden, a Haddonfield borough commissioner who works with Adler’s wife Shelley at the Cherry Hill law firm of Earp Cohn P.C., said Adler’s passing was a “great loss” to him personally.
“When I think of John I think of two things. First, that he was the best example of what’s good about public service. He always made decisions based on what was right, fair, best for people and our country,” Borden said. “I think of him as a friend, a kind of friend you’d want in a foxhole with you. He was always there to support and defend you in whatever way you needed.”
Jon Runyan, who defeated Adler in November’s election for U.S. Congress, said he respected Adler’s leadership and commitment to the people of New Jersey.
“I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of former Congressman John Adler, especially his wife Shelley and their four boys,” Runyan said. “May John rest in peace, and may those he left behind be comforted in the knowledge that his lifetime of public service to our community has left a lasting legacy for which they can be most proud.”
Adler most recently served as a shareholder in the Florham office the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.
He served on the House Committee on Financial Services, with legislative jurisdiction over capital markets, domestic and international monetary policy, housing, banking, insurance, credit and various other financial related matters. Adler led reform of Sarbanes-Oxley provisions to require the Securities and Exchange Commission to study audit exemption for mid cap companies. He also negotiated reform and resolutions on various other pieces of financial services legislation, according to Greenberg Taurig, LLP.
Adler served as a member of the state Senate from 1992–2009. He was chair of the Judiciary Committee, responsible for overseeing advice and consent of all gubernatorial nominees as well as shepherding all legislation involving the state judiciary and constitutional issues.
Until election to Congress in 2008, Adler maintained an active litigation and securities arbitration practice. He has litigated jury trials in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“My heart goes out to the Adler family, his wife Shelly and their four children,” state Sen. Diane Allen said in a statement. “John spent the better part of two decades serving the people of New Jersey with candor and vigor. His intellect and energy were a benefit to his constituents and all who had the honor of serving with him. This is a great loss for New Jersey. He will be truly missed.”
“Congressman Adler was a true example of what it means to serve the people,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver said in a statement. “No matter what office he held, the congressman always advocated fiercely for his constituents and those whose voices otherwise wouldn’t have been heard. He was always at the forefront of the key issues of the day, whether it be ethics, education, a clean environment, public health or property tax reform.
“His passing is a tragic loss for our state, but his legacy of intelligent and classy leadership will not be forgotten. Every time we breathe clean air at a restaurant, for instance, we can thank John Adler. On behalf of the New Jersey General Assembly, I offer my prayers and condolences to Congressman Adler’s family and friends at their time of grief.”
Adler is survived by his wife, Shelley, and sons Jeffrey, Alex, Andrew and Oliver. The family wishes to thank the community that has supported them during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to either Cooper University Hospital or the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, whose doctors and staff worked heroically to try and save his life.
Final arrangements are pending.