In Memoriam: A Look Back at Longtime Fair Havenite Jeanette Choma, 88

Fair Haven has lost another longtime resident. The lady who countless people saw year after year manning the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair’s Grab Bag Booth, affectionately known by many as “the balloon lady,” Jeanette Choma, passed away on Nov. 20. She was 88.

Visitation is set for 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Thompson Memorial Home in Red Bank. In keeping with the current state mandates regarding COVID-19, face coverings must be worn by all visitors before entering the funeral home and visitors are also asked to observe social distancing.  Visitors are asked to make their visits brief. A mass will be held on Monday, Nov. 23 at Church of the Nativity in Fair Haven, close to the former longtime home of the Choma family.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect is preparing a tribute to Jeanette, a valued, longtime family friend after she is laid to rest. In the meantime, we are reprising our little toast to Jeanette, who just loved to make sure everyone knew that she had been in Fair Haven for 50 years! She also never forgot to remember those who had passed on closing night of the fair every year. RIP, Jeanette, everyone’s paisan. You are remembered ….

Jeanette took great pride in being a longtime Fair Havenite and working that Grab Bag Booth at the fair, from the start with my mother, Sally Van Develde. In fact, she once told me it was HER fair. She frequently popped over for a visit, a cup of coffee and some crumb cake at the kitchen table. She was always smiling and loved a good chat.

I chatted her up at one of her last fair nights, if not her last, after “50 YEARS!” she’d tell you any chance she got.

Watch what happens when I ask her about her age in this outtake clip below. (Be patient with this classic video upload. It takes a minute. But don’t miss it!)

More about Jeanette Choma from her obituary …

Jeanette passed away at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. Born at Fordham Hospital in The Bronx, NY, on Feb. 19, 1932, she grew up on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank.

A graduate of Red Bank High School Class of 1950, Jeanette married her husband John Choma Jr., of Swoyersille, PA on Nov. 29, 1952, in Red Bank. She worked briefly for the phone company in Red Bank as a switchboard operator. After her and her Johnny, as she called him, married, the couple lived in Fair Haven. After John passed away, she continued to live in Fair Haven until 2015.

“Jeanette loved roller skating and was a roller skater at The Singing Wheels Roller Rink in Red Bank. She also enjoyed, and was proficient at, the art of sewing. She also loved to paint and draw.”

Jeanette Choma’s family in her obituary

Jeanette was predeceased by: her husband, John; her parents, Joseph and Marie Acquaro of Little Silver; her sister, Frances Acquaro-Leone of Brick; and her grandson, John R. Choma Jr., of Fair Haven.

Jeanette is survived by: her husband, John; her brother, Andrew Acquaro, of Oakhurst; her three children, John R. Choma Sr., of Fair Haven, Kathryn Choma-Maselli, of Oceanport, and Andrew B. Choma, of Belford; four grandsons, Raymond M. Choma, of Middletown, Bryan and Jason Choma, of Middletown, and Victor A. Maselli, of Oceanport.

Interment will follow the funeral at Fair View Cemetery, Middletown.

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management