Montclair State Made Our Life and Our Future
When Patricia O’Connor first graduated from Montclair State in 1955, she applied for a science teaching job in Florham Park at Ridgedale School. “At that time, they didn’t have a science program or curriculum, and they’d just built a new science lab,” she recalls. “They were looking for someone to write a curriculum, furnish the lab and get everything started.” Pat was nervous about whether she was ready for this major challenge as a brand new teacher, but Dr. Rufus Reed, chair of Montclair State’s science department, encouraged her to go for it. “You take that job because you may never get that opportunity again!” Pat remembers him telling her. He and science professor Dr. Irwin Gawley assured Pat that “We will help you.” With their support and encouragement, Pat took the job. It was overwhelming at first, but she stuck it out and succeeded. “Montclair State really backed me up and that helped me to succeed. It was a great experience,” she says.
Patricia is now Patricia O’Connor Babb '55 '58 MA, and she and her husband, Robert Babb '54 '60 MA are both retired from long and distinguished teaching careers. They credit their outstanding education at Montclair State and the support they received with much of their success. Grateful for the opportunities that Montclair State gave them, the Babbs have been loyal donors to their alma mater since 1983. “Montclair State made our life and our future!” Pat says happily. “It really helped our lives.”
“I always felt that the more prestigious the college became over the years, the more prestigious my education became,” Pat says proudly. “Montclair State is what enabled me to step into a career I really enjoyed and succeed teaching chemistry and math.” She taught for 27 ½ years at Florham Park High School and Hanover Park High School.
“I taught physics and chemistry for 42 years in Millburn, including 40 years at Millburn High School, after graduating from Montclair State and enjoyed it very much,” Bob says. “It was very rewarding. I was prepared well at Montclair State. At the time, Montclair State was well known for providing an outstanding education for secondary school teachers in training,” Bob adds. Dr. Reed also helped Bob get his first teaching job in Millburn through his contacts.
“Montclair State prepared me academically very well,” Pat agrees. “I came from a background that was not very wealthy. I had a great experience at Montclair and met my husband there too!”
“It was a great four years,” Bob says proudly. “We really got some great benefits. When we were there, the school had about 1200 students for all four years!” Pat lived on campus in Russ Hall and Chapin Hall and Bob was a commuter. They were both science majors and in the Science Club and active in the Student Government Association. Pat had a work scholarship (similar to today’s work study) in the Speech Laboratory. She also worked as a lab assistant for Dr. Kenneth O. Smith in the Physics Department for two years. “He was such a fine gentleman,” she recalls. In addition to Dr. Reed and Dr. Gawley, she also has fond memories of Jean Sherwin, who she worked with on the Dorm Council. Pat was also a cheerleader and a member of the College Life Union Board and Sigma Delta Phi sorority. Bob was on the baseball team and in the Spanish Club. Pat worked on the committee for the groundbreaking of Life Hall. “That was the beginning of the growth on campus,” she recalls.
“Montclair State is part of our family,” Pat shares. Bob’s brother Herbert Babb '54 '60 MA is also an alumnus (they graduated the same year), as well as their two great nieces, Debra (Wiegel) Romano '96 MA and Monica DeMarco ’12.
The couple recently visited with friends Constantino '54 and Lillian Lister Rauzzino '54. Pat was in close touch with her dear friend June Sasaki ’55, who passed away this year. Pat taught math in Hollywood, California for many years and was also close to the couple's son, Brian, who lives in California. The Babbs come back to campus as often as they can, especially for their milestone reunions, including their 50th where they saw many old friends. Bob is already looking forward to his 60th class reunion in May 2014!
To honor loyal alumni and friends like the Babbs who advance the University through their loyal support year after year, Montclair State has established the Loyal Society, which will acknowledge regular annual donors. Mr. and Mrs. Babb and their fellow members of the Loyal Society will be invited to a special campus event as part of Homecoming on Saturday, October 12, 2013, to thank them for their generosity and dedication to Montclair State. Invitations will be forthcoming.
To make an immediate impact in students’ lives, make your gift today by visiting MONTCLAIRconnect, Montclair State's online alumni community (https://montclairconnect.org/makeagift). For more information on the Loyal Society, please contact Jeanette Hanlein, Executive Director for Stewardship and Advancement Services, at 973-655-7066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.