Lerma Judith Chen, of Belvidere, NJ passed away Sunday night, January 2, 2022, after a brief illness, at the age of 87.
She was the daughter of William J. Chen Sr. and Liala Chen, born Feb. 23, 1934, in Newark, NJ. Lerma grew up in Belleville, NJ with her parents and loving grandmother Leong Sam Chin Jim. She also lived in Millburn, South Orange, and now Belvidere, NJ.
She is survived by her husband of 40+ years; John Clemmer, daughters Deborah Klappa and husband Charles of Boquete, Panama and Jacqueline Lindsay and husband Timothy also of Belvidere; granddaughter Megan Lopes and husband Leonard and great-grandchildren: Leonard Santino, Catherine, Mary, Carmelo, and Timothy Jameson, all of Matthews, Virginia. Lerma is also survived by her sister, Leilani Viney and husband Terry of Millburn, NJ and brother William J. Chen Jr, and wife Rebecca of Gaithersburg, Md. as well as numerous nephews, niece and cousins.
Lerma, having artistic abilities at an early age, attended classes at the Art Students League of New York, NY, and later Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Early in her adult life she became a “hat” model while living in Manhattan. Lerma attained a BA and MA from Rutgers and she taught history and social studies at South Plainfield High School for 27 years. After retiring, she became a licensed insurance agent and joined her husband in their newly formed Ridgewood Insurance Services, Inc. where they both worked for 18 years. Lerma also held a real estate license and attained a Fine Arts Appraiser Certificate from NYU, Manhattan. Lerma was active in community projects such as the Main Street Redevelopment Program, Renaissance Coalition and initiation of a Historical Society in South Orange, all of which ultimately led to a rebirth of the town. During her life, Lerma had an unyielding faith in the American Republic and proudly served as a Democrat Committeewoman during former President John F. Kennedy 's campaign and saw him in person, but eventually became a Republican. Lerma lived a unique full life and lived on her own terms. Lerma spent several years performing, teaching and choreographing Middle Eastern and Asian dances and produced an instructional dance album. Using her artistic abilities, she joined her husband, John, in the restoration of two historic residential homes which they brought back to their original style and decor. She became accomplished in restoration of Porcelain objects and fine oil paintings and also was an oil painting artist. She also enjoyed extensive travel via cruise lines and trips abroad. Lerma, with her husband, enjoyed extensive antiques and fine arts collecting. She loved her dogs. Lerma led a truly interesting life and she was an inspiration to those who knew her.
In lieu of flowers, we request that you make a donation to the following charities in Lerma’s loving memory, unless you prefer your own; St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, 575 Woodland Rd., Madison, NJ 07940: website: sthuberts.org or the First Baptist Church of Belvidere, 55 Pequest Rd., Belvidere, NJ 07823 email: fbcbelvidereoffice@gmail or the Belvidere Ambulance Corps Inc., 234 Paul St., Belvidere, NJ 07823 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A private memorial service will be planned at a future date. The Finegan Funeral Home in Phillipsburg is handling arrangements.