Retro RFH Family Showfolk Affair

By Elaine Van Develde

When it comes to show biz, sometimes in the RFH area, sometimes it’s a family affair. Sometimes it just is.

Sometimes people just catch the bug at an early age. Sometimes it happens in high school or even a little later. Then it spreads rampantly — through the family.

Continue reading Retro RFH Family Showfolk Affair

Focus: RFH Grads Shoot Hoops & Raise Funds for a Good Cause

Some Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) grads took to the basketball courts at Knollwood and Sickles schools in Fair Haven recently to shoot hoops for a good cause.

The cause: Covenant House, a non- profit organization which provides much needed services for at-risk and homeless youth in America and abroad. The organization helps roughly 50,000 young people a year.

The fundraiser, which brought in $4,000 for the cause, was dubbed The 1st Annual Fair Haven Covenant House 3v3 Basketball Tournament and it took place at Knollwood and Sickles schools on Feb. 22.

There were a total of 24 teams and 95 players, many of whom were RFH grads. RFH classes 2003-12 were represented and players ranged in age from 22 to 60.

The tournament was run by Fair Haven natives D.J. Breckenridge, Jim Laufer, Ben Miller, Dan Miller,Will Miller, and Dan Ryan, who will all be participating in The Covenant House Young Professionals Sleep Out coming up on March 18.

At this coming event, more than 300 young professionals will sleep out on the streets of NYC in an effort to raise funds and awareness of youth homelessness. The Sleep Out is expected to raise more than $300,000.

Locally, there are Covenant House branches in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Newark, Philadelphia and NYC. Covenant House President Kevin Ryan, also a Fair Haven resident, made a surprise appearance at the Feb. 22 fundraiser.

Take a look at the above slideshow for a glimpse into the event. 

For more information on Covenant House, click here.

— Photos and information, courtesy of D.J. Breckenridge

Bonnie and Clyde Come to RFH

The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) Tower Players are setting the stage for a production of the Tony-nominated musical Bonnie and Clyde.

The show will start with opening night on Friday, March 18 with a 7:30 p.m. curtain and a show on Saturday at the same time and close with a 1 p.m. Sunday matinee on March 20.

Bonnie and Clyde, musical by Frank Wildhorn, of Jekyll and Hyde, Civil War and Dracula fame, is based on the real-life adventures of starry-eyed Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and the outlaw Clyde Chestnut Barrow, who embarked on a crime spree across the United States at the height of the Great Depression.

Bonnie wants to escape from her west-Texas town and become a movie star. Clyde has just broken out of prison with his brother Buck. When they meet, their mutual cravings for excitement and fame set them on a mission to chase their dreams.

Teaming up with Buck and his wife Blanche, they commit a string of robberies and become American folk heroes as well as law enforcement’s worst nightmare. Forced to remain on the run, the lovers resort to increasingly brutal crimes. But as their fame grows and the body count rises, the end draws near for the ill-fated duo.

Bonnie and Clyde features a non-traditional score combining blues, gospel, and rockabilly music. The RFH production will showcase a cast of 45.

The RFH production stars Eli Rallo as Bonnie Parker, Matt Hughes as Clyde Barrow, Kate Sustick as Blanche Barrow, and Liam Hughes as Buck Barrow.

Suzanne Sweeney is director, with Kasi Ann Sweeney as assistant director. RFH Dance Team Coach Jen Costa is choreographer. Amy Fredericks, musical director for the Count Basie Awards, will be conducting the pit orchestra and overseeing vocal performances as the production’s musical director.

Costumes and props are under the direction of Carole Malick, and Matthew Leddin is overseeing the tech crew of 50 students providing set construction, sounds, and lighting.

Refreshments and a Texas-style feast, including chili and cornbread, will be available for purchase at the café in the RFH gymnasium before each performance and during intermissions.

Ticket prices are: $10 for general admission and $6 for students and seniors. RFH students with SGA cards will be admitted free.

To purchase tickets online, visit the RFH web site ( and click on “Bonnie and Clyde.”

For more information including group discounts, contact Play Production Coordinator Stefania Flecca, [email protected].

The Box Office will be open for ticket purchases an hour before each performance.

Over the years the Tower Players have received numerous awards for acting, directing, choreography, costumes, set design and lighting, and overall outstanding production.

A Fair Haven Story: Jen Andres’ Uncanny Party for a Purpose

By Elaine Van Develde

She’s a Fair Havenite. She’s a neighbor. She’s a friend. She’s a baker. She’s a teacher. She’s a wife. She’s a mom. And right now, she’s a warrior.

That’s how friends and Fair Havenites A.J. and Michele Sandone described Jen Andres, a quietly undaunted 46-year-old mother of two young girls, teacher and wife to Rich. Jen is part of their family in more ways than one and facing a battle she plans on winning with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

It’s a story of strength, ties with a twist of family and community fate peppered with lots of love. That love manifested itself in a fundraiser for Jen on Saturday that started out as a small gesture of hope and help and ended up painting a much bigger picture of a community family coming together for a cause.

The cancer caught Jen Andres by grim surprise. Yet, being foisted into dealing with the diagnosis soon became paled by generosity of spirit and support. And the support took on a life of its own, breathing more tenacity into Jen than her friends say she already had. And that’s an awful lot, according to them. The cancer was an unwitting adversary from the start, but it became an even more conquerable one.

This is how her story started, took a few ironic turns, and ended at the same spot — home — with homegrown hope, strength and love to boot …

Jen got blindsided with her diagnosis around the holidays after a routine visit to the doctor, the coincidental discovery of what seemed to be nothing to worry about and some follow-up tests that were initially designed to just rule out anything bad.

“Even the doctor thought nothing of it,” Michele Sandone said. “Jen wasn’t worried. Then the biopsy results came back. They showed that she not only had cancer, but what is called triple negative breast cancer. It’s a very aggressive form that is not hormonally related. So, the only treatments are chemo(therapy) and radiation.”

The good news, if there is to be any good news about cancer, is that it was caught at stage 2, because Jen ironically kept an appointment that she nearly canceled. But, since the cancer is an aggressive form, Jen has already gone through four heavy duty rounds of chemo. She has 12 more to go, then surgery.

In spite of a bout with pneumonia and the fourth round of chemo following a hospital stay, she, the undaunted warrior her friends know her to be, rallied to attend the fundraiser.

She was glowing with gratitude as she was embraced at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Fair Haven by a full house of hope, strength and love — the theme of what was dubbed Team Andres: Party with a Purpose.

“Wow!” she said, modestly soaking it all in. “This is just amazing. I am so thankful.”

But, her friends, family and children are thankful, too — thankful for her. And they’re all thankful for the coincidental twist of fate that brought them to Fair Haven and made it their home — nestled into a community family of virtual strangers who are strangers no more.

On the subject of family matters, the little piece of irony in this story is about a genetic link that ended in a small town with strangers with no common DNA pitching in for the cause — because that’s what families do.

Why did the Sandones end up spearheading the fundraiser for this woman who lives around the corner from them? Well, they’re cousins — sort of.

Rich, Jen’s husband is A.J.’s second cousin. It’s complicated and simple at the same time.

“My dad and his mother are cousins,” A.J. said. “My grandmother and his grandmother are sisters. We would see one another once or twice a year — or more like at weddings and funerals. Then one day in 2010, knowing he and Jen lived somewhere near Red Bank, we ended up here in Fair Haven looking at a house to rent on Church Street. I called and said, ‘Hey, are you close to Fair Haven?’ He said, ‘Close? I’m IN Fair Haven!”

The two joked that they couldn’t get much closer than the few blocks from there to Rich and Jen’s house — until they did. They ended up living about a block away from one another after the Sandones left the rental behind to buy their own home a block away.

“We were so close, I could see his front porch light from my back yard,” A.J. said. “Then we joined the Knights of Columbus together in November to contribute to the community, went to the Christmas party there in December and ended up organizing this party. It’s crazy.”

And it’s a good kind of crazy for A.J. and Michele and Rich and Jen and everyone else they now think of as family — the best kind, they said.

All were amazed at how their loose family connection took them on a journey to this close bond in a tight-knit community. Here they are, working their way through a tough time with the support of a tiny town far from where they started out as somewhat distant relatives.

“It’s so ironic how things turn out sometimes,” A.J. said. “I just can’t stress how amazing the people of this town have been. This started out as just a small way for us to show support and it just took off. The donations came rolling in and person after person, many of whom don’t even know Jen, just couldn’t offer enough help. Everyone really rallied to help a fellow neighbor. And that’s what it’s all about” at home in Fair Haven.

About Jen Andres and how you can help

Jen was a substitute teacher in the Rumson and Fair Haven school districts for the past couple of years. She now works in the Red Bank schools as a teacher aid in special education classes. 

Before the doors had even opened at the Knights on Saturday, thousands of dollars had already been raised to help Jen and the family with excessive medical and incidental costs. 

Anyone who could not make the event and would still like to donate may send checks made out to Knights of Columbus Council 3187 with Jennifer Andres in the memo. The checks may be sent to Team Andres at 17 Parker Ave., Fair Haven, NJ 07704. 

The Sandones and Andres families would like to give a special thanks to Umberto’s and Fairwinds Deli for the generous food donations donation of time and help serving. 

They would also like to thank the band Filet of Soul for the entertainment. And they would like to thank all the businesses that donated auction prizes and every person who donated time and assistance.




Visitation, Funeral Set for Former Rumson Councilwoman Joan Pillsbury DeVoe

Longtime Rumsonite, community volunteer and former Councilwoman Joan Pillsbury DeVoe passed away peacefully on Feb. 21.

The daughter of the late John M. and Mary Loux Pillsbury, Joan was raised in Atlantic Highlands and Middletown. She attended The Beard School in Morristown, and graduated from Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

Joan was an active volunteer in the community where she made her home for most of her life — Rumson.

Her service to the community included longtime involvement in: The Junior League; Rumson Community Appeal; Rumson Historical Society; and St. George’s Canterbury Fair, Altar Guild and Vestry.

Public service was a very important part of Joan’s life and she believed that serving as an elected official was a public trust.

Joan was elected to the Rumson Borough Council in 1996 and served for 18 years. The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders presented her with a citation on the occasion of her 80th birthday in honor of her many years of government service on both the local and county level.

A member of the Sea Bright Beach Club, rain or shine, spending time at the beach with family and friends was anticipated all winter and filled her with happiness all summer.

Joan is survived by her three children: John P. DeVoe, Dale D. Leach (Jeffrey), Susan D. Sandlass (Henry); grandchildren Kristin C. Devoto (James), Aimee M. Chandler, Gregory D. Leach, Frank J. Leach II; her great granddaughter, Ava S. Devoto; her sister, Mary Loux (Dubie) McDonnell; and her nieces and nephews. Joan was predeceased by her sister, Susan P. Kyle.

Visitation will be held on Friday, Feb. 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad Street, Red Bank.

A funeral service will be held at St. George’s by-the-River Episcopal Church, Rumson, on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. Interment following the service will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to Shore House, 279 Broadway, Suite 400, Long Branch, NJ 07740; or St. George’s by-the-River, 7 Lincoln Ave., Rumson, NJ 07760.

— Obituary, courtesy of Thompson Memorial Home.

Retro Tiki Haven Antics

Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen and Dan Kane are up to some Tiki antics at the 2015 Tiki Haven. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen and Dan Kane are up to some Tiki antics at the 2015 Tiki Haven.
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Aloha! It’s Hawaiian for hello and goodbye, right?

Well, unfortunately, this year, after a successful first Tiki Haven last year, before the date even got here it was time to say “Aloha” to this year’s Tiki Haven, the fundraiser for future Fair Haven Days.

Continue reading Retro Tiki Haven Antics