Obituary of Ruben E. Arias
Ruben Eduardo Arias, of Chatham, died on Saturday, January 27, 2024 at Inglemoor Rehabilitation Center in Livingston. He recently celebrated his 100th birthday.
Ruben is survived by his three devoted children, Cynthia Arias and John Lenton, Beverly Arias and John Schwartz of Siesta Key, Florida, and Ruben, Jr. and Francine Arias of Chatham; seven cherished grandchildren, Jasmine, Isis, Nyle, Torin, Lauren, Brendan, and Ryan Arias; three great-grandchildren, Lily, Liam, and Luna Clermont; and many extended family members.
He was predeceased by his beloved wife Consolacion Lily Arias in 2004; and his siblings, Federico, Cosencia (aka Conchita), Fabian, and Leoba.
Ruben was born in Santa Margarita on Samar Island in the Philippines on December 5, 1923. He was raised in a loving, close-knit, devout Catholic family with his siblings in and around Santa Margarita.
His youth was typical of a simple fishing village in the 1920-30’s - he spent time with family and friends, went to church and school, and most importantly, he went fishing and sailing, his first passions. As an industrious teenager, his love of the water led him to become a “banquero,” a sort of boat taxi with outriggers, offering rides to arriving ship passengers. When he left for his high school senior year in Tacloban, the other banqueros pooled their day’s wages and gave it to him - a heartfelt act which left him truly humbled.
Ruben finished his senior year, but his high school graduation was canceled due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the arrival of World War II to the Philippines. He became part of the Philippine resistance in the months before the Japanese first arrived, and in January 1944, evacuated his village and comrades after witnessing the Japanese land on their beaches. He served in the Philippine Islands with the guerilla forces against the Japanese before joining the United States Navy in February, 1945.
Over the next 21 years, Ruben took part in the Philippine liberation, fought in the Korean War, and was eventually stationed in European Central Command in Paris, France, where his two daughters were born. He then moved to Norfolk, VA, where his son was born, and after moving to Brooklyn, NY, retired from the Navy in September, 1966.
Ruben worked tirelessly to provide for his family, and earned his Bachelors and Masters at New York University. He also worked for over 25 years as a social worker for the NYC Child Services Administration, dedicating his life to helping New York City’s children and their families.
After his retirement from social work, Ruben and Consolacion lived in New York City until 2001 when they moved to New Jersey to be closer to their family.
Ruben loved the outdoors, especially spending time near the water, and enjoyed fishing at every opportunity. He was an artist at heart, as reflected in his painting, writing and storytelling, and was a voracious news hound, reading the New York Times daily and watching the news as much as possible. And when he shuffled to Chatham’s Main Street, he was affectionately known simply as “Grandpa” to those who knew him.
Ruben always felt blessed for everything in his life, especially for his family who he loved so deeply and the opportunities he was given throughout his life. He truly admired all veterans and was tremendously proud to be one of the first Filipinos to join the US Navy.
Ruben lived a full life in every sense of the word. During his 100 years, he fought for what was right and just, served humanity and dedicated his entire life to helping others, never expecting anything in return.
He is remembered for his tireless work ethic, his compassionate heart, his selflessness to a fault, his artistic expressions, his surprising strength and toughness, his infinite love for his family, and above all else, his bright smile and contagious laugh which he shared with all who were blessed to have known or met him.
Ruben was, in a word…inspiring.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a visitation for Ruben held on Saturday, February 3, 2024 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Madison Memorial Home, 159 Main Street, Madison, NJ. A funeral service will be held at 2:45 p.m. during the visiting hours, followed by military honors.
Interment at Arlington National Cemetery will be held privately for the family at a later date.
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