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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Letters to the Editor

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To the Editor:

I was greatly saddened to hear of Charlotte Cessato’s passing. I was in her very first history class as a senior at Oakcrest High School. Charlotte was a student teacher and lucky enough to get me as one of her very first students.

I was polite at that time but a little ornery, and very impressed with how she handled me and my fellow friend Charlie Grobel. Charlies was president of student council at that time.

I asked Charlotte a question to test her—if she agreed with the Transcendental Poets Wordsworth Emerson and Longfellow that nature was the true bridge to God.

She thought for a moment and then reminded me that Walt Whitman was also considered a transcendentalist and he was from Camden, New Jersey!

That same year, Charlie and I went to Charlotte’s parents’ house where she lived Christmas caroling, actually doing a little Christmas drinking. We think Charlotte may have noticed because she asked her parents if they could see what she had to deal with as a student teacher, but all in good fun. It was 1967. Charlotte also realized many of us would be going off to the Vietnam War and she showed real compassion and maturity. I now realize she was only four years older than me at that time.

I came home off and on after four years as a hospital corpsman in the Navy. Three of those years I flew search and air rescue with the 3rd Marine Air Wing.

During the next 20 years, I lived in California and Montana. When I got back home, Charlotte helped me find a condo and encouraged me to return to help her with some plant stands that she admired for St. Anthony’s Church and told me she was proud of me for all I had accomplished and to stick with it.

Charlotte was so gracious about her passion for faith and never wore religion on her sleeve.

She offered to pay me for my work which I thanked her for and modestly declined and throughout the years continued to admire her and work with her for the church.

As I reflect on my own love and admiration for Charlotte I think of the words and music of George and Ira Gershwin. “Embrace me, you irreplaceable you.”

Thank you, Charlotte, you irreplaceable you.

Thomas G. Southard



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