A respected and treasured former Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School teacher has died at 92, leaving many a former student and neighbor with good memories and anecdotes.
In the prime of his teaching career, Floyd DeNicola was on staff at R-FH. It was the 1970s. It was a time of leisure suits, scholastics outside on the front lawn and “modular” scheduling, rewarding good students with “free” time to ready them for college. And, DeNicola, an astute economics teacher, who headed the Social Studies Department at the high school, had made his mark. And it was an indelible one.
Decades later, many miles and years between them, when DeNicola passed away last week, the news hit his former students with nearly as much force as another superstorm. Since then, comments on the Fair Haven Facebook page have been popping up.
With roughly 40 comments on the page from former students, it’s evident that DeNicola was never forgotten for his gentle demeanor peppered with tough, yet fair, academic demands.
R-FH Class of 1980 alumni Mark Edelman took his remembrance comment one step further with a note to DeNicola.
It said: “Dear Mr. DeNicola, Thank you for your teaching me economics. I really was listening. You were such a great teacher. I only went to the tests in my college economics courses. I thought of you often during college because you taught me so much. I still remember when you showed me your war scars. You are a great man among men. Thanks for making the free world free. I will never forget you.”
“Woody Hayes was his high school football coach and he met General Patton during WWII,” John Vigilante said. “May he rest in peace.
“A really good teacher,” said Betsy Lee Nixon. “RIP and thank you.”
“He was a fantastic teacher,” said Mary Ellen Caldwell. “I had his Economics class at RFH and went on to major in Economics in college. RIP Mr. D.”.
“He was a good guy and a good teacher,” John L. Moncrief said.
“Nice grading curve, too, in econ,” said Carl N. Swenson. “Square root of your grade x 10.”
“RIP, Mr. D.,” said John Kirman. “I spent every morning with him in the SGA (Student Government Association) office my junior and senior years. He was an excellent educator.”
“In the recesses of my mind, I hear him calling me a ‘foul ball,’” Doug Newman said.
The following is an obituary provided by DeNicola’s daughter Kathleen (Kitty):
Floyd A DeNicola, 92, formerly of Rumson, died after a long illness on Dec. 4, 2012.
Born in Mingo Junction, Ohio, on Dec. 8, 1920, of Italian immigrant parents, he learned to speak English in first grade. DeNicola went on to eventually earn a Ph.D. in economics from Ohio State University.
DeNicola was known to have been a loyal fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Saturdays in the fall were always devoted to cheering their football team, especially when led by Woody Hayes, his football coach in high school.
DeNicola was pre-deceased by his wife of 68 years, Kathleen (Kay) M. Schoch.
The two married in March of 1943 when he was on a four-day pass from the U.S. Army during World War II. He served in the 95th Infantry, known as the Victory division and was one of the Iron Men of Metz, named so after the fierce combat in retaking that French town.
While serving in the war, DeNicola was wounded in the Moselle region, repelling German advances across the Saar. For his heroic war efforts, he received a silver star with oak leaf cluster, a bronze star and the Purple Heart. The French gave him a special thank-you in 2009 by naming him a Chevalier in their Legion of Honor.
After the war, Floyd finished his formal education and went on to a history professorship at Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, WV.
After moving to New Jersey, DeNicola first taught social studies and was a department head at Hillside High School.
He then headed to Rumson, where he served as head of the Social Studies Department at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School and taught economics.
“And salt water fish were never safe again,” once DeNicola, also an avid fisherman, settled in Rumson close to Sea Bright’s ocean shores, his Florida obituary read.
Committed to education and the environment, after retiring to Florida, DeNicola “was a long-time volunteer at the Environmental Studies Center in Jensen Beach, the establishment of Indian Riverside Park, the Men’s Garden Club, the Florida Native Plant Society and the Martin County Conservation Alliance.
He and Kay maintained summer homes on Paulinskill Lake in northern Jersey, then Great East Lake in Wakefield, NH and later moved to a tidal cove on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia,” according to his Florida obituary.
He is survived by: his sister Grace Linn, of Florida; his daughters Kathleen of Dover, NH, and Karyn, of Mount Laurel, NJ; his beloved grandchildren Geoffrey, Katie and Brian; and great grandchildren Jackson, Jeremy and Peter, who all love to fish.
Memorial donations can be made to the Environmental Studies Center of Jensen Beach or the Martin County Conservation Alliance in Stuart.