When Michael Neibert attended his wife Susan's memorial service on Jan. 4, there was one thing that left him "pleasantly surprised."
"There were a lot of parents and former students there, people who knew Sue from Southern Boulevard School, and came to the service," Neibert said. "She knew a lot of kids in town, no question about that."
Susan, a longtime resident of Chatham Township, died on Dec. 29 at the age of 60 after what her husband called "a long battle with cancer." She was employed at Southern Boulevard School for 17 years as a teacher's aid and a secretary in the front office, in a job which her husband said was one of the great passions of her life.
"I think overall Sue really loved children," Michael said. She was a stay-at-home mom when her children were young, then joined Southern Boulevard School when they were a little older. "She's been with SBS for a long time, and I think her love of children [gave] her a tendancy to go the extra mile for the kids."
Susan would let children who were anxious about school stay with her in the front office until the first bell rang. She stayed after school with children whose parents were stuck in traffic or otherwise unable to get to the school on time. "She was always helping the kids out," Michael said.
Her dedication was also noted by Principal Ralph J. Pesapane and by Superintendent Michael LaSusa. "Sue Neibert has left a long and memorable legacy as secretary at Southern Boulevard School," Pesapane said. "She was one of the most gentle and caring members of our staff."
Pesapane and LaSusa both said Neibert's presence at Southern Boulevard will be sorely missed.
School was not the only place where Susan dedicated her time to the children of Chatham. She was also a local Girl Scout troop leader, one who "loved to take the kids camping, exposed them to the outdoors, taught them to do thins like build a campfire and sleep in tents. That's the kind of person she was," Michael said.
Southern Boulevard, though, was where she was the happiest. "If I were to look at her life, I would have to say that when she worked there, they were some of the happiest years of her life. She loved the staff and she loved the kids," Michael said.
Her two daughters, who live in Morris Township and Manhattan respectively, and her husband were by her side when she died. For her husband of 35 years, her death is the loss of "my soulmate. She was my best friend. I'm going to miss that enormously. ... We could spend a lot of time together. We did things together, even just running errands. I'm going to miss that enormously."
Most of all, he said, "She was always a giving person. She always took care of me, of everyone She always thought of the other person before herself. That's what I'm going to miss the most."
Neibert was born in Pueblo, Colo. and raised in Colorado. She moved to New Jersey with her parents in the 1960s and graduated from Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights before attending the University of Denver and then working as an accountant for Root's Clothiers in Summit.
Besides her husband and daughters Alissa Neibert Walmsley and Katherine, she is survived by parents Ronald and Orpha Emerine, sisters Corinna Rowe and Chris Paris, and grandson Oliver Walmsley.
The family asks for donations to Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in lieu of flowers.