Clifton Celebrates Some of its Super Women
An advocate for children with special needs for 22 years and on the Clifton Board of Education for more than ten, Judith (Judy) Bassford is a well-known name in town. Said Gabriella Mariiello, who nominated her, “She is a strong and selfless advocate for all children in Clifton and beyond. She will bravely fight for what is right, even if she is standing alone. Judy is witty and smart and is not afraid to ask the tough questions. We are lucky to have her here in our community.”
Daughter Samantha Bassford added, “My mom’s dedication to Clifton is unmeasurable. Even I have a hard time keeping up with all she has done for so many years. I can be in any area of Clifton and people consistently come up to me with a personal story of what my mom has done for them that has impacted them in a positive way. Anyone can hold a leadership position and have a list of involvement but making a personal impact goes beyond the surface level. Even in trying times in her personal life, my mom rarely misses what she has been committed to. I am excited for her to be recognized as this serves as a reminder to her that her hard work does not go unnoticed. Sometimes she is in positions that can be thankless but I think there are many people in Clifton who are thankful for her!“
Lillian’s daughter Linda Lejda nominated her with this submission about her mom -
“You can find Lillian Gfroehrer of Clifton working and designing diligently on her small kitchen table where she spins out many creations. With her sewing machine whirling, she started making clothes for her growing family, which included dresses, coats, and matching Mommy and Me outfits.
Once retired, she filled her time and turned her focus to creating pillows and reversible shoulder bags using recycled blankets, drapes, and curtains. She then started attending craft shows with her goods and began a small business where she created unique baby and children’s items. She made sweet bibs, aprons, whose pockets she filled with wooden spoons and a matching chef’s hat, and crayon bags with front pockets for each color crayon and coloring books.
Now that all of the young ones are grown, she now focuses on animal shelters. She creates blankets for the animals’ cages and neck scarves of all sizes. Her idea was that once the dog or cat was adopted, they would go home with a new start in life adorned with a scarf made with love to enjoy with their new families.”
Gloria was nominated by Barbara Levi James as an example of a true Clifton public servant. Gloria served 28 1/2 years on the Clifton City Council, including two terms as Mayor from 1982-1990; she was its first Mayor to serve consecutive terms. For the majority of her career, she served as the sole woman on the Council. Gloria was born and raised in Clifton, attended the old School 6, and graduated from Clifton High School.
Among her many accomplishments in public office, Gloria was known for her efforts to preserve open space in Clifton. She was instrumental in the Steep Slope Ordinance to limit development on Garrett Mountain and the city’s purchase of the 5-acre Schultheis Farm on Grove Street. She introduced Clifton to City Green in her last term, which uses the property as an eco-farm center. Gloria also advocated for the renovation and expansion of the Clifton Library on Piaget Avenue, helped create the “Safety Town” program to teach kindergarteners traffic safety, and founded the city’s Beautification Committee to promote tree planting and other efforts to beautify the city.
Gloria was a founding member of the Clifton Arts Center and served as the Council liaison since the planning to convert an original quarantine station barn began in 1998; it was renamed in her honor by a unanimous vote of the Mayor and Council in 2010. One of her final efforts on its behalf was work to secure a nearly one million dollar grant from The Passaic County Historic Preservation Trust to fund its renovation to 21st century gallery standards, which was completed in 2019. After her death in 2016, a stained glass window was created in her memory by Clifton artisans Hiemer & Company Stained Glass Studio and installed in the Arts Center.
Gloria earned many awards during her career in office and was elected to the NJ League of Municipalities Elected Officials Hall of Fame in 2005.
Barbara Levi James also nominated "Grandma Chrissy,” aka Chris Liszner, for her many selfless contributions to Clifton residents. James told The Clifton Times that Chris volunteers for a number of different organizations and does a lot of fundraising and awareness events. When asked about Chris, several people echoed that she is the last person to seek attention or thanks. “She’s a very humble person,” said Councilwoman Murphy.
Chris has been a leader for Relay for Life with the Red Hat Angels, raising awareness and money for cancer warriors, survivors, and their families. She serves on the Cable Committee, coming up with new ideas to share with the community, and is a member of the American Legion Auxillary. She has also been deeply involved with Clifton Cares,
which collects and sends things to soldiers, both overseas and stateside. She recently joined the Senior Advisory Board, a city committee, to work on ways to improve life for Clifton’s senior citizens.
In its first year as a City Council initiative during Women’s History Month, Chris was named one of Clifton’s “Women of the Year” several years ago. “It takes a village and there’s a lot of people in my village,” Chris said of her many contributions.
“Pina Nazario [is] truly a wonderful woman and has helped hundreds of sellers and buyers during her first 25 years in real estate. She knows a home is one of the biggest investments and puts all efforts to ensure she helps them correctly,” said Malu Lopez, who works with Nazario.
“Pina also loves giving back to the Clifton community where she lives. She has volunteered with the Home and School Association when her sons were in the school system, recreational sports, and other organizations throughout Clifton. She also gives donations to those organizations in need like St. Peter’s Haven, Clifton Boys and Girls Club, and more.
Pina is the whole package. Professional, mentor, wife, mom, and grandmother.”
Women of The Clifton Times
In addition to the women above, nominated by members of the community, thanks are owed to the women whose contributions to this publication have brought so much important, local news to our community.
Amie Kolodziej created The Clifton Times and was the Editor for its first year and a half. Under her leadership, Clifton saw its own daily, hyper-local source of news for the first time. This site would not exist without her.
Rachel Castelino has contributed multiple stories weekly, often focusing on our furry friends and helping to bring attention to those who need new homes. She has also been working closely with our libraries, bringing news and book recommendations out into the community.
Kim Renta has shone a spotlight on local businesses, highlighting some of the yummiest spots to eat and drink in Clifton. She’s also featured many “pets of the week” being cared for at the Clifton Animal Shelter.
Barbara Levi James has been writing weekly stories about Clifton non-profits, highlighting some of the wonderful, charitable organizations that are making life better for our city’s residents. Through her articles, Clifton non-profits are getting the publicity and recognition they so richly deserve.
Stefanie Feliciano is one of our student writers. She posts weekly updates on things that are happening at Clifton High School and has featured several of CHS’s after-school clubs, bringing attention to some of the truly exciting things that our high school has to offer.
Our city is lucky to have these, and countless other women, among its residents.