Carol Hollander, 75
July 17, 1946—August 13, 2021
Carol Hollander, a long-time Montgomery Township resident and an educator at the John Witherspoon Middle School in Princeton, died on August 13. She was 75.
Her obituary is written in her own words.
For those who knew me and those whose lives I have touched: I was born into a big Italian family. The date was July 17, 1946. My blue eyes caused quite a stir, and I rose like a bright star in the hearts of my loving parents, Lena and Eugene Martinelli.
The stories and history that ran through my family shaped the person I would become. Even now as I write this, I can fall back all those years to big family dinners, raucous weddings, and simple days at the Italian Club—watching the old men play bocce ball on perfectly sculpted courts.
There was a sense of community, connection, a shared history, and a passion for life that has informed my entire being.
I loved school from the beginning, and by the age of eight knew I wanted to be a teacher. My brother Paul, who is six years younger than I, can attest to my early awakening to a passion for teaching when, as a precocious 10-year-old, I would make him sit at a desk for hours as I honed my skills.
I found many joys as a teen, including theatre and cheer-leading, culminating in the beginning of a relationship with Michael, who was to become my husband and partner of almost 60 years.
I the cheerleader captain and he the captain of the football team, my own personal fairy tale. I attended William Paterson College and graduated with honors in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in education, followed a number of years later by a master's degree in speech pathology at California State University Fullerton.
What followed was a 43-year career in teaching, where I found all I could have ever hoped for in a profession, as well as a group of lifelong friends whom I love and respect to this day. I held each student who passed through my classroom as a precious and unique individual deserving of my full attention and respect and of the opportunity to grow into a competent and curious adult.
As co-president of the teacher’s union, I helped lead the union through some difficult and important milestones in the history of the school district, with results that reflected my deep commitment to the profession and my belief in the importance of education to the fabric of every culture.
Along the way, we were blessed with the arrival of our son Jason, who would grow to become an accomplished and compassionate doctor, and, who with his wife Sarah, blessed us in turn with our granddaughters Alex and Jesse. Watching those girls grow into beautiful, kind, and competent young women has been nothing short of extraordinary and life-affirming. I know they will continue to bless the world with their presence.
Throughout my life I traveled far and wide, climbed a few mountains, toured Alaska, parts of Europe, and much of the continental United States and Canada on a motorcycle—and was blessed with abundant gifts of a well-lived life.
In the end, my biggest joys came from family and from my life-long quest to bring people together whenever it was in my power to do so.
I leave this world with a big thank you and with gratitude to all those who have blessed me with their presence and friendship throughout my life. Now I make room for another to be blessed by the gifts of life. May they find as much joy and fulfillment as I have.
In lieu of flowers please send contributions to the Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Foundation, 4573 South Broad St., Suite 150, Yardville, NJ 08620. MDS is a type of cancer that hides from the immune system to progress unchecked. Please consider donating blood to the Red Cross. The gifts of being a blood donor are remarkable.