"He did this while navigating the difficult managed-care industry that persisted through the 1990s and never giving up on the city of Camden," Norcross said.
Since 2002, Mr. Halpern had served as chief executive officer at Camden County's Health Services Center, a long-term care facility in Gloucester Township.
Raymond Yannuzzi, president of Camden County College, said Mr. Halpern's sudden death was a shock. Yannuzzi said he still had notes on his desk for a meeting he was supposed to have with Mr. Halpern, the chairman of the board of trustees, on Wednesday.
"He was great to work with," Yannuzzi said. "I used his guidance, his wisdom, and his advice all the time."
Anthony Perno, vice president of what is now called Cooper's Ferry Partnership, said the original Cooper's Ferry association was cofounded by Mr. Halpern in 1984 as a public-private venture to revive Camden.
"What you see today is part of that vision," Perno said of the Camden waterfront and other projects in the city.
Mr. Halpern also was active in Camden County politics.
"He helped launch my political career," said Freeholder Jeffrey Nash.
In 1989, Mr. Halpern ran for township council in Cherry Hill with three running mates. Only Mr. Halpern survived the primary. He was so disheartened that he dropped out of the race, Nash recalled, and "I took his place."
Mr. Halpern also was a former Democratic chairman in Cherry Hill.
Former Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt said he met Mr. Halpern through politics three decades ago, and called him a mentor.
"He touched thousands of lives," Platt said.
Mr. Halpern was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. Even after becoming a South Jersey transplant, he continued to buy season tickets for the New York Giants - a tradition started by his father in 1946.
He received his master's degree in hospital administration from New York University, and worked administrative health-care jobs in the Bronx when he was selected by the Cooper board to be the new president and chief executive officer in 1981.
In the 1990s, the hospital was rocked by a fraud scandal that resulted in two administrators being sent to prison.
Mr. Halpern was not implicated in any wrongdoing, but the hospital was buffeted by controversy and strained finances. He resigned from his leadership roles in 1999. He stayed on briefly in a fund-raising capacity.
He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Karen; a son, Brett; and his parents, Hy and Marian.
A viewing will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at Platt Memorial Chapels, 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill, where a service will follow at 12:30 p.m. Interment will be at Locustwood Memorial Park, Cherry Hill.
Contributions may be made to the Kevin G. Halpern Scholarship Fund, c/o Camden County College Foundation, Box 200, College Drive, Blackwood, N.J. 08012.
Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983, or email@example.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.