Mae Yanowitz, 98, former Highland Park High School English teacher and department head, died on December 1, 2017 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, New York.
Born Mae Merrell, September 5, 1919, in her family home at 162 West 2nd Street in Mount Vernon, N.Y., she was the middle of five daughters and the last to survive. On March 2, 1941, she married Edward Yanowitz in the room where she was born. They were married for 62 years, until his death on November 28, 2003.
Upon Ed’s return from the army in 1946, he and Mae moved from NYC to South Jersey, using the GI bill to start a chicken farm. They had farms in Estelle Manor, and then in nearby Richland. For several years they ran a popular Tastee Freez in Millville. Then, in 1958 they went to college to become teachers. Mae earned her BA degree from Rutgers. In 1962 they moved to New Brunswick and in 1965 across the river to Highland Park.
Mae first taught 6th grade in New Brunswick. Later, she taught English at Highland Park High School. She became head of her English department, taught Advanced Placement and honors English, and became her teachers’ union negotiator. She earned her MA and completed coursework for a PhD in English, planning to write a dissertation on James Joyce, but went no further.
Mae had a passion for travel and the arts – music, dance, theater, painting, sculpture, and literature. She even acted once at the Villager’s Barn Theatre with Ed and her son, David, in The Fifth Season. She and Ed travelled abroad many times, where they shared wonder, awe, and love for all of history, culture, and nature.
Mae and Ed lived in Highland Park until both retired and moved to Clearbrook. Mae always enjoyed living in Highland Park and returned there for a few years. After Ed’s death, Mae moved to Brooklyn to be closer to family.
She was deeply political – a passionate advocate of human and civil rights for her entire life, striving always to put her beliefs into action.
She is survived by her children, Richard Yanowitz of Hamden, CT., Judith Yanowitz Singer of Brooklyn, N.Y., and David Yanowitz of Los Angeles, CA, as well as her four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.