Catherine Cecilia Reilly Pappas (11/4/1942 - 7/18/2022) died peacefully at home on July 18 surrounded by her family. Predeceased by her first husband Ed Reilly, and her second husband Jimmy Don Pappas, she is survived by her three children Sean Reilly, Megan Irwin, and Caitlin Olcott, her three grandchildren Faith and Brenna Reilly and Hayley Irwin, her sister Maryellen Bryan, her niece and nephew Vicki Mapes and Ricky Bryan, and many cousins and friends. After attending Carlow University in Pennsylvania, Cel started teaching at the Beech Street School in Hackensack, transferred to Hackensack Middle School, and spent almost four decades teaching students from kindergarten to 8th grade. She believed in teaching the whole child in an inclusive and welcoming classroom. Her lessons were creative and challenging, often involving games and puzzles as well as books and worksheets. Her unbridled enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity sparked an interest in most students, and her infectious humor and optimism captured the attention of the rest. An expert in both reading and math skills, she tutored students who needed extra attention, often finding a way to reach students that other teachers had found challenging. As ski club advisor, she introduced the pleasures of skiing to neophytes and nurtured the talents of experts. If a student didn't have access to ski equipment or clothing, Cel would somehow find the necessary funds even if it meant footing the bill herself. Cel loved the theater, country music, dancing, travel, and enjoyed working in her garden.As co-founder of the Low Tea Society, she was an expert in making cucumber sandwiches and insisted on lemon curd on her scones. She enjoyed games and puzzles, especially Bridge and Sudoko, and enthusiastically organized unusual gift exchanges, group outings and activities, and Ugly Sweater contests. She was the inspiration behind an annual community hat gloves and sock drive to gather winter wear for the homeless shelter and painstakingly illustrated all the leaflets we distributed despite being very ill. She was compassionate and generous to her family, friends, and neighbors. Cel lived by the motto Carpe Diem and enjoyed all the moments of her 79 years of life despite the heartache of loss and challenge of illness. She listened to anyone with a problem and her advice was often peppered with Irish proverbs and funny incidents from her own experience. Our loss is immeasurable but so is the love she left behind.
The funeral will leave Petrik Funeral Home, 140 Palisade Avenue, Bogota, Tuesday morning at 9:30 for the funeral Mass at St. Joseph's RC Church, Bogota, at 10. Interment George Washington Memorial Park, Paramus. Visiting Monday 2-4 and 7-9pm