Florence Annibal

Florence Annibal (1922 – 2018)
Who was Rosie the Riveter?

Did you guess? She was a symbol of women’s contributions to the war effort during World War Two. While many were on active duty overseas, there were others supporting them in factories across the country. Florence was one of those women. She left Pennsylvania and her eight siblings to come to New Jersey for work. She commuted to New York City for a short time then took a job at Curtis Wright as a solderer on plane parts, supporting the war efforts.

Her sister, Mary, left Pennsylvania for New York City to work as a governess. Mary married Walter Warin, moved to Pennsylvania, where Walter worked for Bethlehem Steel during the war. Afterwards, they returned to New Jersey. A few years following Walter’s death in 1997, Mary bought a house in Forked River to be near her family. She remained in her home until her passing in 2010, at the age of 94. While living in Forked River, she delighted in having her great grandson come to her home each morning before school to wait for the bus and after school there was always the glass of milk and cookies. This was a very special time for both of them.

Florence, settled in Garfield, where she made friends who would become a permanent part of her life. She married Gary Annibal, had three children and together she and Gary started two businesses. They purchased their home in 1961 where Florence remained until June 2018, passing at 95 years of age. After her husband died in 2011, she chose to remain in her home where she was aided primarily by family members who kept her engaged and active.

Reading her story is a reminder, that many of us know only limited histories about our family members and the roles they played in contributing to our history, our communities and our country. Her story became one of the memorials about staying active, healthy and connected to family and friends. Florence symbolizes the aging-in-place goals of Y-Move.

What stands out about Florence may be true of family members, friends or neighbors. From her early years, Florence exercised, jumping rope in her basement while doing laundry, doing leg lifts in bed and arm exercises with some light weight hand bells. She was on a bowling team, maintained her garden and her home. She loved cruises and traveled throughout the United States with family members.

Her daughters spoke of her skills with a pogo stick and with the bouncing paddle ball. Given a harmonica and an instruction book, she learned the basics well enough to entertain some of the grandchildren. She exercised her brain by doing word searches and reading the newspaper daily. She served as a county committee woman, loved Lawrence Welk, pasta, ice cream, cake, her family, her church and having her hair done every week. She cared about her appearance and watched her weight. Florence lived an active life, never on a regime of medication, and never sedentary.

What are you doing for yourself or that senior you know who may need your help and encouragement? What makes Florence special to appear in this column? Nothing in particular but everything in general. Florence is in many of our neighborhoods and in our families. This story is intended to encourage you to connect with a senior family member, friend or neighbor. Inquire about their life stories. Show them that you are interested in who they are and that you will be there for them as they age in place. Help can come when needed through families, organizations, churches or good neighbors. Need some additional resources? Call us at Y-Move. That’s why we’re here and that is what we do.

Robin O’Brien

Stay active, Stay healthy, Stay in Lacey
Meet your neighbor, Robin O’Brien

The time was 1974 when Robin O’Brien brought her family to Lacey township, from Oakland, New Jersey to be near friends and the New Jersey shore. They had already known and stayed on LBI in a family summer cottage but for year-round living Lacey provided what she wanted for her 2 children.

In 1976, with both children in school, it was time to go back to work. That opportunity presented itself at Forked River Elementary School, first as a playground aid and later as a library assistant. Little did she know that thirty-one years later, she would be retiring from the same school. While her children were in Lanoka Harbor School, she was active in the PTA and continued to be a volunteer in their schools until they graduated. Robin was the founder and charter president of the PTA in both the Lacey Middle School and Lacey High School. Additionally, she volunteered with the Girl Scouts and coached girls’ softball.

Robin was an avid volley ball player in Oakland and missed the recreational sport.
In 1975 she organized the first women’s recreational volleyball group. They played in the Forked River School gym and later moved to Mill Pond School under the recreation department. They now play in the Lacey Middle School as a co-ed group during the winter months.

In 1988, Robin grabbed the next opportunity to start an informal mixed open doubles tennis group. It continues to this day. On good weather Monday, Wednesday or Friday mornings, check out the tennis courts at Gille Park and you will see 50 to 80-year old’s having fun. Though it is not age restricted, it is mostly seniors playing, laughing, enjoying time with their friends, staying healthy and active.

Robin has been an organizer, participant and advocate for staying active in Lacey Township. She believes in encouraging others to play and supports them as a teacher and an informal coach.

Spending time in Florida during the winters, she was introduced to the new sport taking the country by storm called pickleball. No grass grows under this girls’ feet. In 2013 she was at the recreation director’s door asking him to bring the sport to Lacey.

Pickleball is now a very popular sport played at the Middle School in the spring and fall under the recreation department and in the summers at Gille Park, where Robin is the organizer. These are informal and friendly games. She encourages everyone to try a new physical activity as a great way to stay healthy, connected to others and have fun in their own community. In addition to exercise, pickleball is a social time, meeting new people and talking and laughing together as a group.

Robin’s organizational efforts brought her to the attention of the United States Pickleball Association and she serves as the ambassador for Lacey Township. Her job is to promote and organize, give instructions and participate. Thanks to her efforts, Lacey was one of the first towns in the area to introduce the sport of pickleball. Recreational pickleball has a 60-member list with an average of 18-20 players coming out to Gille Park on Monday and Thursday evenings.

Robin, at age 77, plays pickleball 5-6 days a week. She participated in the New Jersey Senior Olympic Games for pickleball in 2014 and 2016 garnering silver and bronze medals and qualifying for the National Senior Olympics.

You might think this would be enough for one person, but not if you know Robin. She is an active, vibrant person, who plays a significant role in many other organizations in our township. She is a twelve- year member of the Municipal Alliance, ten years with Rutgers University Master Gardeners of Ocean County, and six years of involvement with the Women’s Club of Lacey dedicated to making a difference. Other activities include: being an elder at the Forked River Presbyterian Church and a volunteer with Mandorla.

Y-Move wishes to congratulate Robin for her continued dedication and support of the residents of Lacey Township. She demonstrates staying healthy, active and involved in activities both recreational and supportive. She contributes to making Lacey Township an age-in-place friendly community that cares about its senior citizens.

George Mako

George Mako (1936 – 2016)
A 27-year resident of Forked River

Lacey Township was home to George Mako and he contributed to his community in many ways. He loved getting to know his neighbors, the tellers at the bank, the postal worker and supporting local businesses.  He was a regular with the Gille Park tennis players, at the library reading newspapers and picked up magazines from medical offices for the boys at Oceanfields. He spent 5 years as a snow bird between Forked River and Kingsland, Georgia. After his retirement, his love for his community and while still in good health and still active, he founded Mandorla, Inc. a small local non-profit that continues to serve the needs of the community through various locally based projects. When aging introduced new challenges, he chose Lacey as his full-time residency because of its small town feel and his love for his home on the river.  Who was George Mako?

George was the son of first-generation American parents who only attained an eight-grade education and the grandson of Polish and Czechoslovakian immigrants.   He was a fair student in high school who excelled at playing football and baseball. In 1954, at not quite 18 years of age and with parent permission, he joined the Korean War effort by enlisting in the United States Navy.  He was assigned to an oil refueling tanker, the USS Mosopelea ATF-158 and his last assignment was Naval Intelligence. Upon completing his four-year tour of duty and with a GI bill to pay his expenses, George attended Trenton State College graduating with a teaching degree.  

His first teaching job paid an annual salary of $3,800. Not quite enough for a married man with children, but he had a strong work ethic. During the school year he coached sports and during holidays and summers, he worked as a driver for the Greyhound Bus Company earning more money than at teaching.  When offered a full-time position by Greyhound, he passed up the “high dollars” and devoted himself to making a difference in the lives of young people.

George was a strong believer in education and its value. He continued his studies with an MA degree from Seton Hall and doctoral studies in administration from Nova University.  He worked for the Boards of Education in Edison Township, Point Pleasant Beach, Willingboro and with the Morris County Educational Services Commission.

As a professional educator, he served as an assistant superintendent, high school principal, teacher and coach. After a career in public education, he was founding vice-president of New Choices Educational Consulting Firm and an adjunct professor at several universities.

In his senior years, George rekindled his interest in sports with a secondary goal of staying healthy.  He participated in several senior softball leagues throughout Ocean County and enjoyed the informal tennis games at Gille Park for the conversation and comradery. George competed in the New Jersey and National Senior Olympic Games from 1990 – 2007 where he won gold and silver medals in tennis, softball and basketball.

Other volunteer activities included AARP, New Jersey Governor’s Conference on Physical Fitness, Elder in the Clinton and Forked River Presbyterian Churches, Eagle Scout review board, Boy Scouts institutional representative, YMCA board of directors, board of education citizens advisory committee and United States Selective Service local board member.  

He set and achieved goals throughout his life. Whether in his career, sports competitions or his volunteer activities. George was greatly admired and respected by those who had the privilege of knowing him. His legacy continues with Y-Move.