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Point Pleasant, NJ and Richmond, VT
Father, family man, friend and public servant, Dr. Lawrence DeBellis of Pt. Pleasant, NJ and Richmond, VT passed away at home in Vermont on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, surrounded by his loving family. He was 95 years young. Born and raised in Easton, PA to Donato and Anna DeBellis - immigrants from Italy - Larry was raised in a close knit and loving home of 9 children. Larry's upbringing instilled in him the values that defined his life: care for family, education, work, service, thrift. If his family needed him, he was there. The closeness, laughter, and fun he shared with his family were especially enviable and inspiring. While generous with his caring, time and spirit, and attentive to his family's needs, he personally never wanted anything. His philosophy seemed to be "it's not necessary".
Larry was a highly regarded, respected, educated and successful professional; over his 36 years as founding Superintendent of Schools of the Pt. Pleasant Boro, NJ school district he oversaw the development, construction, staffing and operation of its 4 schools. Despite his professional success, he was nonetheless a very humble and selfless man. This was reflected in his many years of community service as a founding member of the Pt. Pleasant Rotary and Lions clubs, and as a member of the Elks Club Lodge #1698, the Durand Masonic Lodge #179 F. & A.M., the Kiwanis club, and the Pt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church. He was also a recipient of the Rotary's Paul Harris Award and was inducted into the Pt. Pleasant Boro Educational Hall of Fame.
He took great pride in his family and his work - and most important of all was the successful development of the children he was entrusted to educate. He highly valued education - always encouraging continuous study - and voraciously read everything he could get his hands on. He also highly valued work; a favorite hobby throughout his life was searching the want ads for interesting jobs. Larry received his Bachelors of Science in Education from East Stroudsburg (Pennsylvania) State Teachers College in 1942. Upon his graduation, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and then transferred to the Quartermaster Corps. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, he was assigned as a company training officer at Camp Lee, Virginia. In December of 1947, he was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. He obtained his Masters and Doctorate degree in Education from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1965.
In January of 1948, Larry began his teaching career as a math and science teacher in Pemberton, NJ. After stints teaching in Burlington and Lindenwold, NJ, and a summer studying at Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, NY on a GE Science grant, he was hired in July of 1951 to be the supervising principal of the Ocean Road School, a K-8 school with 500 students in Pt. Pleasant Boro, NJ - a very rural town at the Jersey Shore. He 1952 he became superintendant. Within a few years Pt. Pleasant Boro branched off from Pt. Pleasant Beach to be its own educational district and Larry spent the next 30+ years establishing this new school district and building its schools - guiding its growth from a single elementary school to a system comprised of two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. When he retired in 1987, his 36 years of service represented the longest unbroken superintendency in one school district ever in New Jersey - a tenure unheard of today. In his honor the administrative offices, high school and middle school were named the "Lawrence DeBellis Educational Complex". The hallmark of Larry's career was his deep care and concern for the children, teachers and staff in his district. Along the way, he developed valued close friendships with many of his colleagues - who affectionately called him "Doc" - which continued till the end of his life.
In June of 1951, Larry and Melita (Curry) DeBellis were married. They remained married for 45 years until her death in April of 1997. Together they had two daughters, Laurie and Melita Ann, who hold many loving memories of their father. Larry spent the last 3 years of his life living with Melita Ann and her family in Richmond, Vermont, where he developed many new friendships that brought great enjoyment to his life.
Larry is survived by his daughter, Laurie Barbieri Flaherty (and husband Bill Flaherty) of Pt. Pleasant, NJ; his granddaughter, Lynne Barbieri Minter of Royersford, Pennsylvania; his grandson, John Barbieri, of Brick, NJ; and his great-grandson, Jaden Lawrence Minter of Royersford, Pennsylvania. He is also survived by his daughter, Melita Ann DeBellis (and husband Mike Mulcahy) of Richmond, Vermont and their sons, Patrick Mulcahy of Clifton, NJ and Sean Mulcahy of Richmond, Vermont. In addition, Larry is survived by his sister, Mary Rizzo of Macedonia, Ohio; his brother, Dominick DeBellis of El Monte, California; his sister, Pauline (and Vincent) Fraccica of Easton, Pennsylvania, and his brother, Deacon Charles (and Janet) DeBellis of Easton, Pennsylvania, as well as many, many beloved nieces and nephews and grandnieces and nephews. Larry was predeceased by his sisters, Jeanette Cerciello, Margaret Corona, and Hilda Slahta; and his brother, Donald DeBellis.
Services will be held in Vermont and New Jersey. In New Jersey, a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Pt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church, 701 Forman Ave., Pt. Pleasant Beach. Friends are invited to join the family afterward at 12:30 p.m. at the Pt. Pleasant Elks Lodge, 820 Arnold Ave., Pt. Pleasant Beach for a celebration of Larry's life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pt. Pleasant Foundation for Excellence in Education, P.O. Box 3171, Pt. Pleasant, NJ 08742, or the Friends of Open Space Committee (please put "Bennett Log Cabin Fund" in the memo line), c/o Richard Morris, 817 Ocean Road, Pt. Pleasant, NJ 08742.
The family would like to thank his wonderful friends and care providers who brought such joy and support to Larry over the years. Online condolences may be sent to www.cremationsocietycc.com.
Published in Asbury Park Press on Dec. 3, 2013