The Vivien L. Kwiatek Scholarship Is an Alumna's Lasting Legacy

Stanley, Louise and Vivien L. Kwiatek ’65 ’69 MA

The name Kwiatek means “flower” in Polish. Thanks to the generosity of the Kwiatek family, an alumna’s legacy of education will blossom and be celebrated at her alma mater for many years to come.

Dr. Vivien L. Kwiatek ’65 ’69 MA was a proud member of Montclair State’s class of 1965 and earned her master’s degree in 1969. A gifted scholar and valedictorian of her high school class, she was awarded a New Jersey State scholarship to attend Montclair State. During her student days, Vivien, an English major with a minor in History, was a member of the Aldornia honor society and Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society for education. She also was on the Dean’s List in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements.

After graduating from Montclair State, Vivien was a dedicated English teacher for many years at Millburn High School. She was devoted to her students and stayed in touch with many of them. She also had many friends among her fellow teachers. One student wrote her a letter saying what a positive influence she was on him and how she helped him achieve his goals in life. 

Sadly, Vivien passed away after a brief illness at the age of 56 on September 1, 2000. In her will, her mother, Mrs. Louise Kwiatek, established the Vivien L. Kwiatek Scholarship for an English major at Montclair State University as a meaningful and lasting tribute to her late daughter at Vivien’s alma mater.  

John Niejadlik was Louise’s nephew and godson and Vivien’s cousin and has many fond memories of the entire Kwiatek family, which also included his Uncle Stanley. Their families spent Christmas Eve and other holidays together for nearly 30 years and visited each other regularly. “They were such a nice, mellow family,” John recalls. “I never saw one of the Kwiateks angry or heard them say a bad word about anyone.”

Vivien was 13 years older than John but they were always very close despite their age difference. “Vivien had the patience of a saint,” John recalls. “She was always cheerful and smiling and easy to talk to, not snobbish at all.” When John was about 8 years old, Vivien did a school paper on him as an example of a typical young adolescent male. She took him to the movies and lunch and they had a lovely day together, with Vivien carefully taking notes the entire time. John had such a great time with his cousin that he reciprocated using his own precious allowance money a few weeks later.

Vivien and her mother Louise were inseparable and enjoyed traveling the world together, including China, Poland, Italy, and France. “Vivien had a large collection in her room of hundreds of coffee mugs from everywhere she’d visited all over the world,” John remembers. “She loved taking lots of pictures during her trips and sharing them with family and friends when she got home.” A lifelong Snoopy fan, Vivien also loved old movies and oldies music like Bobby Rydell and Tab Hunter. She was extremely organized and kept everything meticulously catalogued in books in her filing cabinets. She also was an avid piano player and a voracious reader. When she passed away, her mother donated her many books to the VA Hospital in East Orange, knowing that Vivien would want them to go to a good home.

Even John’s dog, a Rottweiler named Fritz, loved Vivien and stayed right by her feet whenever she was at his house. John recalls how Vivien was wonderful with his son John, now 23, and brought him puzzles and other educational toys when he was little. “When Vivien died, John bought an angel pin at school and pinned it on her lapel at the wake for her to be buried with,” John shares. “She meant a lot to him.”

Vivien received a graduate school fellowship for doctoral study at the University of Maryland and took a leave from teaching to pursue her Ph.D., which she earned in 1974. She returned to Millburn in 1973 to resume her teaching career, which meant the world to her. 

An active educational leader and a lifelong learner, Vivien was a member of the National Education Association, the New Jersey Education Association, the Millburn Education Association, the Modern Language Association, the Melville Society, the National Wildlife Federation and the American Museum of Natural History. 
Vivien’s devoted father, Stanley Kwiatek, worked for the Orange School District as the head of maintenance and spent his entire career there, retiring in the 1980s. He adored Louise and Vivien and also was close with his extended family. He too passed away in September of 2000. 

Born in Orange, NJ, Vivien’s mother, Louise Kwiatek (née Ricciardelli), was a longtime resident of West Caldwell, NJ. She worked as a supervisor of the Phlebotomy and Communications Department Laboratory at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, NJ, for many years before retiring. Mrs. Kwiatek attended New Jersey State Teachers College in Newark and was a member of the Caldwell Women’s Club. She passed away at the age of 89 on January 18, 2012. 

Vivien and her mother Louise are both members of Montclair State University’s Carpe Diem Society, which recognizes those individuals who include the University in their estate plans. The Kwiatek family’s legacy will help ensure that Montclair State University’s mission will be fulfilled for today’s students and for generations of students yet to come.  

Have you thought about your own legacy at Montclair State? Visit www.montclair.edu/plannedgiving or contact Ely Santoni at 973-655-7298 orsantonituere@mail.montclair.edu for more information. To make an immediate impact in students’ lives, make your gift today by clicking here (https://montclairconnect.org/makeagift).