William J. Labbree; aided Gloucester City

20150130_labbree_obit_600
William J. Labbree

William J. Labbree, 80, of Gloucester City, who owned a real-estate firm there and who was named 2003 Citizen of the Year by his hometown, died of complications from pulmonary problems on Monday, Jan. 26, at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

"Good old Bill," Mayor William P. James said. "Sad day in Gloucester City."

James noted that Mr. Labbree was the "grand marshal in our Fourth of July parade" in 2014, three months after the city had given him a plaque honoring his 50 years of service there.

"He was such a great family man," the mayor said. He and his wife, Jean, "were always seen at youth sporting and academic events, supporting their grandkids."

Mr. Labbree was a member of the board of trustees at the Gloucester City Library for more than 50 years and its president for 45.

"That's pretty incredible in itself," James said. "Quite remarkable."

Mr. Labbree "went onto the board in the early '60s, and before the decade was over he became president," said son William J. Jr.

He remained president "until probably a year ago," his son said.

"The thing he was most proud of was the building of the new library," he said. "That was very early on in his stewardship - the late '60s, early '70s."

Born in Gloucester City, Mr. Labbree attended Gloucester City High School and served in communications on the submarine Diablo.

During his enlistment from 1955 to 1959, his son said, the submarine went on a goodwill mission, stopping at ports in South America.

In 1959, he earned his real-estate license and began a 20-year career, working first for a firm in Brooklawn and then for a firm in Audubon.

After completing his General Educational Development test, Mr. Labbree took real-estate courses at Temple University.

In 1979, he opened Labbree Realty in Gloucester City in 1979. He retired in 2013 before the firm closed in 2014.

Mr. Labbree was a member of the Gloucester City Board of Education in the early 1980s and a member of the Highland Park Volunteer Fire Association.

He was a member of the Gloucester City Chamber of Commerce, the Gloucester City Business Association, the Lions Club, and the Boy Scouts of America.

And, his son said, "he was the founding president of the Jaycees" in Gloucester City, which "probably started in the '60s."

Besides his son and his wife of 57 years, Mr. Labbree is survived by daughters Lori Thomson and Lisa, a sister, and 10 grandchildren.

A viewing was set from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 31, at the McCann-Healey Funeral Home, 851 Monmouth St., Gloucester City, before a noon life celebration there with military honors.

Donations may be sent to the William J. Labbree Scholarship Fund, Box 562, Gloucester City, N.J. 08030.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.mccannhealey.com.

 


wnaedele@phillynews.com

610-313-8134 @WNaedele