When longtime loyal donor Carmelita “Lita” Todaro Perone ’64 first came to Montclair State from Newark in September of 1960, she had no way of knowing that she was starting a family tradition that continues to this day.
She graduated in the class of 1964 as a business education major. Her sister Linda Todaro Montanino ’68 and her brothers Russell Todaro ’74 and Anthony Todaro ’81 are also alumni. In addition, both of her children, Nicholas Perone ’90 and Carla Perone ‘95, went to her alma mater (both were math majors). Nicholas met his future wife, Maryellen Cerkanowicz Perone ’91, on campus while he was a student. And her niece and nephew, Anthony’s children, are now students at Montclair State: Kimberly Todaro ’12 is a senior and Stephen Todaro’15 is a freshman! The connection to Montclair State runs deep in her family.
“I got a very good education and loved Montclair State,” Mrs. Perone says proudly. “My college education only cost $150 a year back then! I had a state scholarship, so it wound up costing me almost nothing,” she adds. “It was a good value and a great school. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
She has been a loyal donor to her alma mater since 1983. “It’s important for me to give back to the school,” she says of her decision to support Montclair State. “Every little bit helps. And my old company, Prudential Property and Casualty Insurance, matches my gifts, so that helps them go further.”
“We are very grateful for all our supporters, especially the long-time loyal ones like Mrs. Perone,” says Barbara Krusko, director of the Annual Fund. “Thanks to the help of alumni and friends like her, we are building a stronger future for Montclair State, while staying true to our core values like small class sizes where students can get to know their professors.”
“I really look back fondly on those days,” Mrs. Perone says of her student experience. “The best thing I ever did was to go to Montclair State,” she says proudly. “It was the only college I applied to. I had a wonderful four years,” she shares. “I took two buses from Newark to get there. The college was small, and you could walk the whole campus. You got to know your professors and your classmates very well.” She remembers fondly business education professors Dr. Elizabeth Van Derveer, Dr. Howard Haas, and Dr. Louis Nanassy, who was the department chairman.
Mrs. Perone was in Lambda Omega Tau sorority (as was her sister Linda after her). “We had lots of fun with Pi’s Follies, talent shows, variety shows, the carnival in the spring, going to football games,” she recalls fondly. “I remember sitting out in the amphitheater on a nice day.” She also had a part-time job working in the Faculty-Student Cooperative Association on campus in Life Hall. She is still in touch with some of her friends from those wonderful days, especially her best friend, Marion Ramsay Kennis ’64, who was also a business major and a sorority sister. “We were in each other’s weddings.”
Later the future Mrs. Perone commuted to campus by car with friends who were also business majors and had virtually the same class schedule. “That sure made my commute easier!” she says with a laugh. During her senior year, she and her best friend Marian Ramsay finally had a chance to live on campus for 10 weeks, when those who were doing their student teaching closer to home temporarily moved out of the residence halls. “That was a great experience,” she recalls fondly. In those days students had to live at least 20 miles from Montclair State to live on campus.
Mrs. Perone taught business for several years at Belleville High School and later at Manasquan High School after raising her family. She worked for Prudential for 15 years until her retirement.
Her advice to today’s students: “Buckle down in high school and develop good study habits so that you can get into a good school like Montclair State!” Mrs. Perone is really looking forward to coming back to campus for her 50th class reunion in 2014. “I can’t wait to see campus again, especially the Red Hawk Diner that I’ve heard so much about,” she says happily.