MONTVILLE, NJ - Carol Ann Snyder didn’t grow up in Montville, NJ, but her father, Robert R. Lazar was a principal and administrator there. Snyder, who passed away Aug. 2, 2014, often talked of her father’s dedication to his profession, and the school that was named in his honor. It is in her honor, and through her memory, that the Lazar family legacy continues to guide and support Montville Township Public Schools.
On Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, seven members of Lazar family gathered at the Robert R. Lazar Middle School, to pay their respects and honor Snyder.
Since her passing, more than $2,000 has been donated to Robert R. Lazar Middle School in memory of Snyder. Books adorned with a memorial plate have been purchased for the school’s library, and a garden feature is being planned for one of the school’s courtyards.
“My mother loved reading and helping others,” said Snyder’s daughter, Kelly Hanna. “I wanted to do something that would honor her passions.”
Born in Montclair, NJ, Oct. 30, 1951, Snyder and her brothers, Steven and Robert J. Lazar, joined their father for many Montville activities, such as sporting events and performances.
While visiting the middle school, Snyder’s brothers fondly recalled games from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
“I didn't know my grandfather personally,” said Hanna. “He passed away when I was young. My mom talked so fondly of him.”
Indeed many remember Robert R. Lazar with great fondness.
Principal Sharon Carr noted that she had never met Lazar, but was always struck by the fondness with which her predecessor, Principal John Gallucci, spoke of him.
“He always said, ‘I need to take care of Bob Lazar’s house,’” Carr recalled.
Those words echoed for the principal as she guided the family through the school’s hallways.
“That picture came to life for me that day,” Carr said as she pointed toward Robert R. Lazar’s portrait. “That day was unbelievable. There are generations of kindness. I always knew it, and I have always strived to do it, but I truly get it now. I understand why John Gallucci always said: ‘I need to take care of Bob Lazar’s house.’”
Assistant Principal John Piselli is a life-long Montville Township resident who attended the school before it was renamed in honor of Robert R. Lazar. Piselli grew up to become a Montville Township High School teacher and a Lazar Middle School administrator. Over the years he has heard countless stories from colleagues who remember when Lazar hired them, or credited him for their commitment to education. More than one has reminisced fondly about Robert R. Lazar.
“He had this charisma,” Piselli said of the stories he’s heard. “People absolutely adored him.”
That fondness inspired Piselli to ask: “What kind of character does it take to have a building named after you?”
And, that question inspired Piselli to create a Character Education curriculum tailored for the students of Robert R. Lazar Middle School.
Though the new character curriculum was planned before the Lazar family visit, as the administrators and faculty met and spoke with Lazar’s descendants, their resolve for the new curriculum was strengthened.
“This year will be dedicated to learning more about the character of the man the school is named for,” Piselli explained.
At the conclusion of their visit, Snyder’s husband, Mike Snyder, Sr., again honored his wife and her father by noting, “This is just a wonderful day for Carol.”