HIGHLANDS – Friends, relatives, and the borough of Highlands remembered former borough clerk, administrator, and all time friend Nina Light Flannery at two moving ceremonies Sunday observing the death of the Highlands native last Jan. 20.
More than 50 family and friends gathered at Mount Mitchill in Atlantic Highlands Sunday morning, a favorite meditation and relaxation place for the Light and Flannery family, to distribute her ashes on the hills overlooking Highlands and recalling memories of her as aunt, loving relative, happy Highlander and proud defender of her community. All who gathered were invited to share their favorite memories, bringing laughter amid tears, before her ashes were distributed on the hill and the gathering released butterflies as a sign of her peace and freedom. Guests also placed varied colored roses on the hillside.
Sunday afternoon, former Mayor and Freeholder Anna Little, now Federal Immigration Judge Anna Little, joined another past mayor Frank Nolan and current Mayor Carolyn Broullon in honoring Flannery, with Nolan praising her for her guidance in helping orient him to the position of borough mayor when he first took office, saying his learning curve was reduced to a matter of weeks because of her tutoring.
Nolan’s daughter, Orianna, a cadet in the NJROTC program at MAST, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, spoke of the days she came to the office with her Dad and how Nina always had a fun job for her to do; coloring and drawing and then hanging her artwork in the office.
Former Councilwoman Dolores Howard spoke of her best friend, noting that through the years, no matter where life took them, their mutual love of their hometown of Highlands always brought them together.
Mayor Broullon, who had presented an official proclamation at a Council meeting at the time of Flannery’s death, spoke of the former administrator’s dedication to volunteering in town. The mayor’s words were echoed and reinforced by the number of organizations represented and participating in the program, all of which were particularly meaningful to Flannery.
Among the other borough officials at the ceremony were former Council members Ken Braswell, Bill Caiazza, Chris Francy, Rebecca Kane-Wells, Joseph Valinoti and current councilman Don Melnyk.
The Highlands Business Partnership dedicated a bench at Huddy Park, the site of the memorial ceremony since it was another favorite park in town for Flannery, with a plaque referring to the former clerk as “a Highlands Legend.”
Sheila Weinstock, president of the Highlands Historical Society, of which Flannery was a founding member and officer, presented Gabriella Caracappa, a graduating senior at Henry Hudson Regional School, with the first Nina Flannery Memorial Scholarship award, a new annual scholarship set up through donations in Nina’s memory. MS Caracappa will be attending Brookdale Community College in the fall. The Board of Education of the Highlands Public School where Flannery attended was represented by Irene Campbell and Nancy Messina.
Val Browning of the Waterwitch Café, presented music for the afternoon ceremony, honoring a “life well lived.”
Nina's sister, Barbara Wirth accepted a framed copy of the proclamation from Mayor Broullon which also described Flannery as the Borough Clerk for 22 years from September 1987 until her retirement in 2009, then a dedicated servant who “when the Borough was again in need of a Clerk, in 2019, selflessly came out of retirement from July through September to serve Highlands until the role could be permanently filled.” Broullon also noted Flannery is a 5th generation Highlander and served the borough as a Lions Club member, Garden Club member, Board of Education member, and Historical Society member “who will be sorely missed and fondly remembered as a kind, friendly and helpful neighbor who had a strong sense of community.” The Waterwitch Coffee Shop will be missing one of their favorite customers, and Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market will never be the same, the mayor’s resolution said, in extending condolences and sympathies to the Light Family and thanks for her contributions and dedication to the community.