Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

One Towering Honor

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

One Towering Honor

Article excerpt

RIDGEWOOD — When Nancy Schuh moved to Ridgewood 25 years ago, the tall spruce tree was already there in the front yard of her new home. It was a fixture in the neighborhood. So, too, was Elizabeth Youmans.

Youmans, known as BJ, was among the first neighbors Schuh met, and they became fast friends. "They were wonderful, welcoming people to have in the neighborhood," Schuh said of BJ and her husband, Tom.

Their children grew up together. The spruce tree grew to towering height. Over the years, neighborhood kids wore a path through the grass under the tree, tramping back and forth between the homes along Arcadia Road.

So it was fitting that Schuh donated her magnificent 70-foot spruce tree this year as the village's Christmas tree in memory of her dear friend BJ, who died of breast cancer in May at the age of 56.

"I don't want her to be forgotten," Schuh said through tears on Dec. 1, the day of the Christmas tree lighting. "This was something I was able to do."

The lighting of the tree at the train station on Broad Street is one of the village's signature events. The downtown becomes a pedestrian mall, there are children's choirs and a marching band, and Santa's "train" winds through the festivities.

"We are going to get together again in your honor, and we did not forget about you," Schuh said.

BJ Youmans, one of eight children, grew up in the same house where she later raised her own three children. She was in the first class at Hawes Elementary School. Later, as a stay-at-home mom, she took on the role of neighborhood baby sitter. "BJ took care of all our kids," Schuh said.

She was both loved and respected. "She ruled with an iron fist and an open heart," Schuh said. Her home was always open to neighborhood children. Those same children, since grown, all gathered at a Ridgewood nursing home to say goodbye before she died. …

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