NJ superintendent killed by teen driver remembered by son as man of family, faith
ROBBINSVILLE — If anyone could be regarded as a pillar of their community, it was Steven J. Mayer.
The 52-year-old township resident — the school district superintendent — was killed along with his dog early Tuesday morning after being struck by a car while he jogged Robbinsville-Edinburg Road. The driver, a 17-year-old girl who attends the district's high school, has not been charged with a crime.
Mayer leaves behind his wife, Donna, an elementary school teacher in the district, and three sons, the youngest still a senior at Robbinsville High School.
“He taught me how to be a good man, how to be a gentleman, how to lead how to love," his oldest son, Ryan, said Tuesday afternoon as struggled with painful tears.
Ryan, 23, said his father "wore a lot of hats," but had always been there for his family.
"He always had the desire to do what was right. He lived his life in a way that honors his faith and his commitment to Jesus."
Mayer had been the school district's superintendent since 2009 but was fondly remembered by students and teachers who'd been under his tutelage as administrator, principal and teacher at other school districts years earlier.
The abrupt and tragic loss was being felt Tuesday by his extended family at Princeton Alliance Church, where he was a board member, and in the community where he could be counted on for support.
Mayer taught youth classes at the Plainsboro church and led mission trips to Brazil, where he worked with Hope Unlimited, an organization that provides assistance and education to that nation's most desperate street children.
“This was a very, very generous family,” said Bonnie Gay, the director of operations at Princeton Alliance Church, and a family friend. “They lived out their faith in tremendous ways. The hope that they brought to the community was just incredible."
In response to Mayer's death, officials closed the district's three schools Tuesday and Wednesday.
Like many of the district's 3,000 students, Trisha Danze's 8-year-old daughter knew who Mayer was.
"He never hesitated to stop to give her a high-five in the hall," said Danze, who runs a nonprofit named after her daughter, Thea's Star of Hope, which helps children with brain tumors.
"I'm in the process of figuring out how to talk to her about all of this. It can be kind of overwhelming," she said.
Danze said Mayer supported her organization's fundraising efforts and stood out as an administrator because he struck a balance between fiscal responsibility and promoting public education.
"He was just an exceptional person and he really just wanted the best for his students and all of us."
Princeton Junction resident Shreya Durvasula, 28, remembers being a student at Grover Middle School when Mayer was the principal at the West Windsor-Plainsboro school.
“My family had just moved from Singapore, and Mr. Mayer took it upon himself to make sure I felt welcomed and acclimated to the new school,” Durvasula said. “He was incredibly friendly, sweet, and this is a huge loss.”
Mayer began his career in the 1980s teaching elementary and middle school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He went on to teach middle school science in Howell. He worked as assistant principal at Applegarth Middle School in Monroe, principal at James Madison Intermediate School in Edison, and founding principal at Thomas R. Grover Middle School in West Windsor-Plainsboro.
He was assistant superintendent at West Windsor-Plainsboro for three years before he was hired by Robbinsville.
School officials say flowers for Mayer can be placed at the gazebo at Foxmoor Community Park on Washington Boulevard. A candlelight vigil has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the park gazebo. Parking is available at Foxmoor Shopping Plaza.
Dino Flammia contributed to this report.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email email@example.com.