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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jun 22, 2020

Colts Neck Realty Celebrates 60 Years

By Lori Draz

Colts Neck is the perfect picture of sophisticated country living. From its bucolic horse farms, rich history, glorious estates, busy farms and orchards, charming stores, and winding, tree-lined roads, Colts Neck is active, elegant, grounded and the image of fine style – words that equally describe Lillian Burry, the owner/manager of Colts Neck Realty. (Burry is also well-recognized as a Monmouth County Freeholder and former Colts Neck mayor).

This year marks the 60th anniversary of this boutique real estate agency – a pure pleasure in this modern, high tech world.

With the skillful storytelling talents of a great historian, Burry recreates the lineage of this Colts Neck fixture.

“It was created by Walter Zimmerer, the builder who was well-known for creating the very image of Colts Neck. He built most of the homes, with their signature iron basement beam, in the Clover Hill section.”

Lillian’s father-in-law, John Burry, moved into a Zimmerer home in Colts Neck. The elder Burry was a natural conversationalist, so good that he was selling houses without trying over dinner. Zimmerer said to him, “You’ve got to do this officially,” so John got a license and really got the agency started.

At the time, Lillian and her husband, Don, were living in Matawan, and she was serving as the first woman council person in town. That’s when she began saving historic sites, starting with the Burrowes Mansion. She was recently honored by the Matawan Historic Society for that work.

After she completed her term, she and Don decided to move to Colts Neck. They bought a four-acre property and built a home where the couple, who celebrates their 62nd wedding anniversary this year, still resides. Zimmerer eventually retired, and Michael Conroy took over the business. Lillian assisted in the operations there, a groundbreaking career for a woman at the time.

After 10 years, Lillian became a broker. At the same time, Michael decided to sell the business so  Lillian bought it, and shortly thereafter her daughter, Lenore, joined the team, making this a real family business. Lenore Manicioto had a son, Vito, and a daughter, Stephanie. Lenore had the gift and raised her young family through Colts Neck Realty. Now Stephanie, vice president of her company, holds a sales associate license as well. Vito is an attorney in Chicago and has been named one of the Top 40 under 40 litigators in the state of Illinois.

Don became the vice president of the company, after leaving behind his career in the chemical business. He is enjoying his retirement, now in its 19th year. But the tireless Lillian continues to work in the family business.

“Colts Neck Realty operates out of a building, also known as the Kelsey House, that was part of the original Colts Neck Village and dates back to 1740,” she said. “The building sits perpendicular to an office building which was originally a ferrier, or blacksmith shop. Then it became the firehouse and then the home of The Honey Man, Harry Barth, who sold his homegrown honey from the shop.

Lillian has spent many hours in her historic office building, mostly with family and her staff, including her extremely competent office administrator, Michele Battista. But every good history story has a ghost, and Lillian had one too – a ghostly companion named Mary, who would visit Lillian while she worked late in the office at night.

“Mary has been very quiet lately, but she was a good spirit, and I hope she is happy,” Lillian said.

In addition to the frequent Circle of Excellence Sales Award-winning Lenore Burry Manicioto and Lillian’s granddaughter Stephanie, the rest of Colts Neck Realty’s highly knowledgeable and responsive staff includes Nancy Boylan, Connie Wilson, Deirdre Hancock, Michael Dzergoski, Ralph Evans and Victoria Ali.

Colts Neck Realty is a member of the Monmouth Ocean Regional Realtors.

From left: Stephanie Manicioto, Lillian Burry and Don Burry at the Freeholders’ annual reorganization meeting

In politics, Lillian and the four other members of the Board of Freeholders are responsible for the 53 municipalities in Monmouth County. In real estate, she has served on the executive board of Monmouth County Association of Realtors and as president of the Women’s Council of Realtors, a national organization that fosters education within the profession. Lillian has been named the Monmouth County Sales Associate of the Year and is part of the N.J.A.R. President Club, N.J.A.R. Distinguished Sales Club and N.J.A.R. Million Dollar Sales Club, to name a few.

“Colts Neck Realty is part of the Colts Neck family too,” she said. “I am so very pleased to have served different generations of the same families as they buy and sell area homes. The real estate world may be transforming in the face of technology, but there is no replacing old-fashioned knowledge and personal attention. As we say at Colts Neck Realty, ‘No one knows the area better!’”