In Memory of





Obituary for Josephine A Van Houten

Josephine Antonia Van Houten 91, of Oakhurst passed peacefully surrounded by her loved ones on January 26, 2023. She was born Josephine Lanza on December 18, 1931 in Brooklyn, NY. Her parents were Philip and Connie Lanza both children of immigrants from Sicily. Philip was a floor-layer by trade and Connie worked piecemeal as a dressmaker in New York’s garment district. Her family eventually moved across the Hudson “over to the country” of Staten Island where she grew up with her brother Frank and sister Maureen in the South Beach area. She attended St. John Villa Academy where played drums in the band and at 5’2” captained the girls basketball team.

Josephine was a passionate educator earning a Bachelor’s Degree from Monmouth College after her first marriage. She began her career in the Monmouth County public school system and eventually became committed to the education of women in business. She was a passionate teacher at Berkley and the Kathryn Gibbs Business schools and eventually earned her MBA at Monmouth University in order to better serve her students. It wasn’t long after her commitment to education that she eventually met the love of her life, another dedicated educator, Edgar Irving Van Houten. The two were married on April 10, 1971 and raised a family of four children in Oakhurst, NJ.

Faced with the issue of what to do with their summers off and 4 children to keep entertained, Josephine and Edgar decided to establish Van Houten Enterprises. For many years between the mid 1970’s and ‘80’s, the Van Houten Enterprise was the operation of a beach concession on the boardwalk at Fourth Ave in Bradley Beach. The store served as a friendly meeting place for residents, tourists and even campers from the nearby Magen David Day Camp. The store carried newspapers, candy, soda, books and beach toys. Curiously one could also find rare Stengl Pottery bird houses, hand tooled leather belts, Wrangler jeans and women’s fashion tops alongside the Whiffle bats and beach chairs. This was a genuine reflection of the couples’ eclectic tastes. In later years the Enterprise would also include a rental property and concessions on the boardwalk in Long Branch.

Josephine and Edgar were enthusiastic black diamond skiers. In the winter it was time to “hit the slopes”. Somehow on the meager salaries of two teachers they managed at least one or two trips to Vermont a season and a few trips to local mountains. After retirement they were fortunate enough to have a place of their own at the base of Mt. Snow, VT where they enjoyed many years of watching their children and grandchildren learn to ski.

Josephine loved the US and made sure to see as much of her country as she could. Upon retirement, she and Edgar loaded up their F-150 with a camper top and headed cross country travelling westward along the northern half of the US, down the California coast and back east across the South. The couple later travelled the famed Alaska Highway. These trips were neither luxurious or methodically organized and became fodder for many wacky anecdotes. Her enriching life became a fabric woven from these very genuine, honest experiences.

Josephine had many other interests and callings. She was a parishioner of St. Michael’s Church, a member of Ocean Township Garden Club, Ocean Township Recreation, St. Vincent DePaul of St. Michael’s Church. She also loved collecting antiques, refinishing furniture and a pleasant round of golf.

Above all else the light in Josephine’s life was her family. Dinnertime with family was sacred, holidays with family were sacred and the more family around her, no matter how messy or how noisy things became, the happier she truly was.

She is pre-deceased by her husband, Edgar Irving Van Houten and brother Frank Lanza. She is survived by her sister Maureen Larisch, children Laura Taylor, Lois Moran, Patrick Harney and Leah Keenan, her grandchildren Nicolas Taylor, Thomas Taylor, Douglas Taylor, Meredith Laegen, Philip Harney, George Harney, John Keenan, Jacob Keenan and Lucas Keenan.

Services will be the at the Fiore Funeral Home on Tuesday January 31, 2023 at 10 am, followed by a mass at St. Michaels Church in Long Branch at 12:00 noon.