Ava Finnerty, a teacher for 44 years who, after she retired, continued her service with the Bayonne Board of Education, died on July 4. She was 72.
Finnerty was a challenging high school English teacher beloved by students, those who knew her said. As she finished her second term on the Board of Education, she planned to run for reelection in November, said Christopher Munoz, the board’s vice president, according to a July 6 story in NJ.com.
She died peacefully, surrounded by loving family, according to her obituary on the website of the Bayonne Memorial Home.
“The loss is immeasurable,” Munoz told NJ.com. “She held students accountable…. She demanded the best from them and she made everyone around her better. She was one of those teachers.”
Born and raised in Bayonne, Finnerty began her career by teaching for 10 years in Jersey City at Sacred Heart School and St. Paul’s School. She then transferred to the Bayonne School District where she stayed until her retirement 34 years later, according to her obituary.
Ava was the loving wife for 51 years of Joseph P. Finnerty; the dedicated mother of Kristen Scarpelli, and her husband, Anthony, Jill Rokosz, and her husband, Eddie, and Sean Patrick Finnerty, and his wife, Michelle. Her “source of joy” came from her five grandchildren, Aislinn, Aidan, Owen, Leon, and Gwendolyn. She was the best friend of Jeanne Kelly for 57 years.
Two years ago, she wrote a personal column about how she and her mother coped with hearing loss. The column, published by the Hearing Health Foundation, can be found here.
Finnerty was first elected to the school board in 2015. She won one of five seats sought by 19 candidates in the first election after the board changed from appointed to elected.
“She devoted her life to education, and she was a vital asset on the school board,” board president Maria Valado told NJ.com. “She will truly be missed.”
The Board of Education will fill Finnerty’s seat after completing a formal application process and a board vote.
“Even when she was sick, she was still working,” Munoz said. “Her passion was unparalleled. We will have to fill her seat, but we can never replace her passion.”
A funeral for Ms. Finnerty was held on July 9 at the Bayonne Memorial Home.