In Memoriam: Longtime RFH Teacher, Counselor, Coach & Fair Havenite, Debby Connolly, 81

“We will remember Debby most for her sunny disposition, kind and gracious manner, and the positive influence she had on the lives of many people, young and old … The glass was always half-full with Debby and she always had a kind word for everyone. She was beautiful inside and out and always carried herself with beauty, grace, and elegance. She will be missed by many.”

Loved ones of Debby Connolly in her obituary
Debby Connolly
Photo/family via Thompson Memorial Home

Longtime Fair Havenite and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School teacher, Deborah S. “Debby” Connolly, passed away peacefully at home on Oct. 27, surrounded by family. She was 81.

In 1970, Debby and her husband moved to Fair Haven to raise their children, Betsy and Susan. There, she was a substitute teacher and served in the borough’s Newcomers Club and Fair Haven PTA. She was also a volunteer teacher at Nativity Church and sang in its folk choir.

In 1977 Debby began her teaching career at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, where she would spend the next thirty-three years of her life. During this time she was a tennis coach, cheerleading coach, established the Welcoming Committee for incoming freshman students, class advisor to the Class of 1985, and the yearbook advisor. In 1980, she created a Work Experience program. She was also the coordinator and department chair of the business education department.

Upon receiving her master’s degree, Debby transitioned into the position of guidance counselor in 1988, was named the head counselor in 1992. She became the supervisor of Guidance in 1996.

In 2002, Debby was named Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, an honor bestowed upon five percent of teachers nationally.  

A teacher, guidance counselor, community leader, and mentor to many during her thirty-three year career at RFH, upon her retirement in 2004, the superintendent wrote, “through your teaching, service as a guidance counselor, and service as a supervisor, you have permanently inscribed  your influence of RFH.”

During her RFH tenure in guidance, “Debby worked tirelessly with hundreds of high school students, writing letters of recommendations and guiding them in the college admission process. Upon hearing the news of her passing, one former student wrote, ‘She was an incredible woman, who had an incredible impact on my life. She made me feel like everything was possible.’
Debby truly loved singing, music, dogs and children. She especially adored her labradoodle Ollie, who was her close companion for 15 years, and would always be by her side for long walks around the neighborhood and car rides.

Loved ones of Debby Connolly in her obituary

Once retired, Debby worked on the Shade Tree Commission of Fair Haven, managed various projects of teaching and writing, and continued to assist high school seniors in both New Jersey and Connecticut in the college admission process.     

Debby earned a bachelor of science degree at Albany State Teachers College SUNY ALBANY, class of 1961, where she was a member of the Beta Zeta sorority.

She met Jack Connolly in Crystal Beach, Canada and they married in February of 1963. They started their family in Kenmore, New York where they lived for five years and then moved to Fair Haven. 

In 1995, she earned a Master’s of Science in Education from Monmouth University.

Debby was a devoted and doting mother and grandmother. 

She is survived by: her daughters, Betsy Connolly and husband Mark Menne, of Hudson, NY, and Susan Graham and husband Peter, of Darien, CT; and her grandchildren, Timothy and Peter Graham. Known to her grandsons as Nonnie, Debby was a permanent fixture at her their sporting events. She found much joy in cheering them and the Blue Wave (football team) onto many victories.

She was predeceased by her brother Ronald J. Traver in 1974. 

The family will be welcoming visitors at 10 a.m. on Nov. 19 at Church of the Nativity, Fair Haven.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Deborah S. Connolly’s memory to support the work of Dr. Elizabeth Jewell at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Please visit Deborah’s memorial page to make a donation. Checks, made payable to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, should be mailed to:  MSKCC, Office of Development, Attn: Brooke Bifulco,  PO Box 27106, New York, NY 10087. Please indicate on the check that the gift is in memory of Deborah S. Connolly. If you would prefer to give via Donor Advised Fund, wire/stock transfer, please contact Brooke Bifulco at bifulcob@mskcc.org or 646-935-9153.

— Edited obituary prepared by family via Thompson Memorial Home

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management