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Retired administrator helped to oversee growth of Howell schools

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HOWELL – Herbert C. Massa, who worked as an administrator in the Howell K-8 School District for more than 30 years, has died.

A current administrator in Howell said Massa would be remembered as a mentor to school board members and other administrators.

Massa, 69, of Howell, died on Jan. 20, at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune. He worked as the board secretary-business administrator and assistant superintendent for the Howell public schools for 32 years.

Following his retirement from Howell, Massa worked as a municipal administrator in Hightstown, Helmetta and Lakewood, and as the interim superintendent of schools in West Long Branch.

Ronald Sanasac, the assistant superintendent for business administration and board secretary for the Howell Board of Education, said he considers Massa to be his mentor.

“People probably were impacted by him as a Howell resident and/or student and they did not even know it. That is part of his legacy; he created a stability and ability on how to progress.

“(Howell K-8) tripled in school population while he was the business administrator, serving in that position for almost 30 years. As a school board member, I worked with him for 12 years and we obviously developed a very strong relationship.

“When I was off the school board, he encouraged me to get my degree, he was my mentor, and he served Howell well for a long time,” Sanasac said.

He said Massa allowed Howell to grow “from basically an agriculturally based farming community back in the 1970s and 1980s to a well-regarded, well-respected, sophisticated school district.

“He was not necessarily out there in front of everything, but he made sure the district moved ahead and the educators had everything they needed to serve the children; and the educators and the staff had what they needed to be personally successful as well.

“He was a great mentor to a lot of people. If you go around the state, you would be amazed at how many districts have people Mr. Massa either mentored, encouraged or helped,” Sanasac said.

Massa was born in Jersey City, raised in Wayne and settled in Howell. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Bloomfield College, a Master of Business Administration degree from Seton Hall University and certification for town administration.

Massa is survived by his wife, Donna K. Massa; daughter, Julie Ann Massa of Philadelphia, Pa.; sister, Joan Mancuso, and her husband, Joseph, of Manahawkin; brother-in-law, Stephen Gross, and his wife, Kim, of Howell; other family members, friends and colleagues; and his dog, Macy, according to an obituary from Clayton & McGirr Funeral Home, Freehold Township.

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