Austin Nicholas Volk (December 28, 1918 – September 18, 2010) was an American businessman and politician from New Jersey. A member of the Republican Party, Volk served as the Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey, and in the New Jersey State Assembly for two terms during his political career.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early life[edit | edit source]
Volk graduated from Brown University, where he became a cadet in the U.S. Naval Reserve Officer Training Program and a Delta Kappa Epsilon member. Volk served in the United States Navy during both World War II and the Korean War, reaching the rank of Captain. Volk owned an insurance business and was Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey from 1960 to 1963 and 1966 to 1970. He later served two terms in the New Jersey General Assembly. During World War II, Volk was a participant at the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands as the commanding officer of a landing craft. Volk is credited with discovering and naming the Brown Bear River in the Solomon Islands after Brown University during the war.
Volk returned to New Jersey following the end of World War II. He began working at Nicholas Volk and Co., his family's insurance office in New York City. He remained a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve and was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. Volk became a logistical support team commander during the Korean War. He once again returned to his family's insurance business after the Korean War. He would later retire from the United States Navy in 1965, having reached the rank of captain.
Political career[edit | edit source]
Volk was elected to two nonconsecutive terms as Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey during the 1960s. He served his first term as Mayor from 1960 until 1963. The city of Englewood was ordered to desegregate its public school system during Volk's first term. He was elected to a second, nonconsecutive term as Mayor in 1965, and took office in January 1965.
The 1967 Newark riots, which lasted from July 12 to July 17, 1967, broke out in Newark, New Jersey, which is located south of Englewood. On July 21, 1967, days after the end of Newark's violence, unrest broke out in Englewood's 4th Ward, a predominantly African American section of Englewood. African Americans had complained of substandard, slum housing and police neglect in the otherwise affluent city. The Englewood unrest, which lasted for five days. included instances of rock throwing, broken windows and one example of gunfire. Several police officers and residents were injured. At one stage of the troubles he used a helicopter to direct the police.
Volk, who was 17 months into his second term at the time of the unrest, agreed to meet with African American leaders and ministers to discuss their grievances during the Englewood riots. He vowed to demolish slum properties in the 4th Ward and increase career prospects for residents. Volk also condemned the violence in Englewood committed by some rioters.
At one point during the unrest, Volk wore his navy uniform as he walked down Palisade Avenue in the 4th Ward with Englewood police and fire fighters. Volk felt that walking with the police and fire fighters would project stability and the need to negotiate the end to the riots. After the riots he appointed a community relations committee to help defuse racial tensions by integrating classes in five elementary schools. However, his actions and use of the police were questioned by some African American leaders. Arnold Brown, who was serving as the first African American state assemblyman from Bergen County at the time, felt that Volk "elevated the situation" through the heavy use of police in remarks about Volk in 2010. Brown explained that, "We had our differences in the ’60s... He was just a conservative looking for the status quo."
In the Fall of 1967, Volk was defeated in his bid for a third term by his Democratic opponent. Democrats also gained the majority of seats on the Englewood City Council in the election. Volk left office in January 1968.
Volk was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly in 1970 representing the 37th Legislative District. He served two terms in the Assembly. Volk retired from the insurance industry in the late 2000s.
Later life[edit | edit source]
Volk married his wife, the former Rae P. Glidden, in 1979. Glidden was the widow of John C. Glidden, who had served as the president of the Englewood City Council. The couple remained together until her death in 2009.
Austin Volk died at his home in Southampton, New York, on September 18, 2010, at the age of 91. He had been a longtime summer resident of Southampton. He was buried at Brookside Cemetery in Englewood.
References[edit | edit source]
- Levin, Jay (2010-09-21). "Austin N. Volk, former Englewood mayor, dies at 91". Bergen Record. Archived from the original on 25 September 2010. https://web.archive.org/web/20100925073619/http://www.northjersey.com/obituaries/092110_Austin_N_Volk_former_Englewood_mayor_dies_at_91.html. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
- "Summer Southampton resident Austin N. Volk dies at 91". The Southampton Press. 2010-09-22. http://www.27east.com/story_detail.cfm?id=302795&town=Southampton&n=Summer%20Southampton%20resident%20Austin%20N.%20Volk%20dies%20at%2091. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
- "Austin N. Volk". north jersey. September 22, 2010. p. 1. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/northjersey/obituary.aspx?n=austin-n-volk&pid=145556066. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
- "Phone new weapon". The Palm Beach Post. Aug 19, 1962. p. 1. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=OPMiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mswFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1028,3520794&dq=austin-volk&hl=en. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- "Race Violence Spreading". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Jul 22, 1967. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=lZgSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vvcDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3654,1484754&dq=austin-volk&hl=en. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
- "School row Talks". The Lewiston Daily Sun. 14 May 1963. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=eWogAAAAIBAJ&sjid=amYFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3286,1377044&dq=austin-volk&hl=en. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
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