April 2019: Rita Singer

Rita Singer
When and where were you born? 
I was born in Boston, MA. in 1930 at the beginning of the depression. I am the youngest of three girls. When Eric (my husband) and I were married we moved to Manhattan where he took over his father’s business. When our first child was a year old, we decided to move out of the city because at that time the New York City schools were not good.

When did you move to Montclair and why?  My former Girl Scout leader had moved to Cedar Grove, so Eric and I paid her a visit to see if Cedar Grove was a good place to live. She strongly suggested the Town of Montclair because of its good schools and its diversity. Eric liked the idea because it was close to Route 3 and therefore an easy commute into the city. We moved here in 1958 and have been here ever since. 

Are you currently employed?  If so, doing what?  If you had a career, what was it?  I am a retired teacher. My family is one of the founders of the Montclair Cooperative School. While assisting in the classroom, the director (Lauretta Freeman) asked if I would teach in the preschool. In 1976 I achieved my goal and received my teacher certification from Wm. Paterson College (now University). I taught at the Coop for 13 years. Then I became a fourth grade teacher at The Montclair Kimberley Academy. I retired in 1995.

How are you currently engaged in the community? I missed being with children so I trained as a docent at the Montclair Art Museum. I’m usually assigned tours for the younger children. Being with them keeps me young.

What organizations or clubs are you affiliated with or a member of? I started a Parent Teacher organization at Minnie A. Lucie School for learning disabled children when my older son was a student there. It became the Association for Children With Learning Disabilities (ACLD).  I’m a quilter with the Speertown Quilters. We meet once a week at Union Congregational Church on Cooper Avenue.  We’ve made many quilts for fundraisers of different organizations. Now we are making small quilts for the Pediatrics Dept. of St Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson. They’re given to children when they’re discharged so they have something pleasant to take home.

Have you done any volunteer work?  If so, what type and with what organization?  On Friday mornings I help prepare a luncheon to be served at our synagogue Congregation Shomrei Emunah on Saturdays. I like to cook so I look forward to helping in the kitchen. I’m a member of the League of Women Voters. I served as chair of the environmental committee for many years. I was a member of the Montclair Environmental Commission for 14 years. I’m a member of AIM and Friends of Bonsal Woods.

What is your mantra or words you live by?  The philosophy I live by is a saying by the former coach of the UCLA basketball team, John Wooden, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”  Every day is a new day and make it the best you can.

What are your plans for future? How does Montclair fit into these plans?  After my husband died I sold our house and moved downtown Montclair. Many of my friends are here and so many of my activities are here so after considering alternatives, I decided to stay. It was a very good decision.