Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Notable Classmates

Mary Ellen Hudson

Even as a child, Mary Ellen Hudson, class of 1946, insisted on being a strong contributor and not a bystander. Whether sharing cotton plants, grown in the family garden by her father, with her elementary classmates or spotting planes during World War II from the tower next to the stadium at Toms River High School, she was eager to participate rather than observe. Mary Ellen jumped at the chance to involve herself in all that was helpful and positive throughout her early years. She walked door to door, as a Girl Scout, to collect scrap aluminum for the war effort, applied her newly learned typing skills while selling War Bonds at the Community Theater, honed her organizational skills as a leader in the innovative Social Behavior Class, and painted the earliest scenes on town business windows as part of a new idea to curtain mischief around Halloween. Service became her hallmark and so did balance. Music, art, sports, clubs, drama, and student government were the areas that attracted her attention in school. Mary Ellen was awarded the Citizenship Award each year for four years. She gave her all and achieved, at a young age, the satisfaction and self-confidence to be gained by those willing to make the effort. The foundation was set.

With the bustling activity and excitement of high school behind her, Mary Ellen entered the larger world where she would be guided by principles ingrained earlier. From her family she had learned the discipline required to exceed expectations. A dreadful accident, from which her father recovered heroically, demonstrated to her the extraordinary power of fortitude and strength of character. From her teachers in Toms River, she learned that mediocre efforts would never be good enough and that actions made the difference, not merely good intentions. With family economics in a precarious state, Mary Ellen faced the choice of attending college or accepting a job in the business world that would allow her to assist her family financially. She chose the latter.

Mary Ellen first worked as a secretary at the local Cadillac dealer. Later, as executive secretary at Jersey Shore Savings & Loan Association, she took on increased responsibility. Following a year of work with Ocean County Search, Mary Ellen made the leap to full-time homemaker and mother in 1950. She and her husband, William, set about raising their fine family that would eventually include four children: Michael, Nancy, Carol, and Thomas. Thus, began a sixteen-year period that can be described as "furious volunteering."

Polio was the scourge of the time. Marshaling the resolve shown throughout her life, Mary Ellen joined the movement to defeat polio. As chair of the Mothers' March of Dimes, she organized women at the local level to prepare for the house to house campaigns. Mary Ellen served as Treasurer for the Ocean County March of Dimes Chapter for many years. While attending a gathering of area representatives, she experienced the thrill of being in the presence of Dr. Jonas Salk when the announcement was made that a breakthrough had occurred in discovering the long-awaited polio vaccine. Mary Ellen saw neighbors in need. As a charter member and officeholder at every level of the Suburban Club, she poured her energies into helping others. For more than thirty years, the group raised thousands of dollars for the local fire companies, first aid squads, hospital, Organization for the Blind, Visiting Nurses, School Nurses Relief Fund, etc. While a member of the Suburban Club, Mary Ellen first participated as a Judge in the Annual Halloween Parade. She continued that tradition for the next 45 years!

Community Hospital (now Community Medical Center) began with significant support from volunteers. Mary Ellen, ever ready to lend her energy and skills, served in many capacities through the Twig organizations, the many fund-raising events, and various officer levels of the Community Hospital Auxiliary. She served as president of the Auxiliary and as a Trustee of Community Hospital. Mary Ellen, along with other volunteers, gave generously of her time. There were walls and equipment to scrub and curtains to hang as the hospital was readied for opening.

Once again, Mary Ellen would be drawn to the business world, this time through her employment with the Board of Education of the Toms River Schools from 1966 - 1990. Levels of responsibility included Secretary, Administrative Assistant, Assistant to the Board Secretary, and Assistant Board Secretary. She spent twenty-eight years working with the negotiating teams for the Board and all of the unions. Mary Ellen served as president of the Ocean County Association of School Business Officials. Her penchant for helping others led her to use her considerable expertise in overseeing the School Board Elections to publish a standardized School Elections Workbook. Mary Ellen, as chair of a committee, and other business officials prepared the book which was distributed by the N.J. Association of School Business Officials and used by hundreds of less experienced school district personnel throughout New Jersey.

In addition to helping the citizens of Toms River, Mary Ellen also works to preserve the historic heritage of Toms River. She was recently awarded a Resolution by the Township of Dover in recognition of her service a Commissioner and Secretary of the Historic Preservation Commission. Mary Ellen chaired the Toms River Schools "Centennial of Graduating Excellence" celebration. As a Trustee for the Ocean County Historical Society, she has co-authored Along the Toms River and Downshore -- Manahawkin to New Gretna. Two new books are in progress.

Mary Ellen takes an active role wherever she finds herself. As a member of the Presbyterian Church of Toms River, she has served as Elder and Clerk of Session. As Clerk of Session, she is the "Lay Leader" of the Church. Mary Ellen's membership in the Choirs of the Church has spanned over 25 years.

Today, the Toms River Schools Hall of Fame is proud to honor Mrs. Mary Ellen Hudson. We are thankful that she chose to stay in Toms River and establish deep roots here. Mary Ellen has touched countless lives while applying her talents in a myriad of capacities. She has strengthened the fabric of our town through years of extraordinary service. We salute her dedication to this community.


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