Keyport school board president loses battle with COVID

KEYPORT – Community leader and Keyport Public Schools Board of Education President Ann Marie Panzarelli, 51, is being remembered as someone who made an impact on her town.

Panzarelli died on March 13 after battling COVID-19 since mid-February, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association. She served on the Keyport school board for 10 years.

Panzarelli worked in the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District Transportation Department as a bus driver.

News of Panzarelli’s passing hit the school district and the close-knit community hard.

Keyport Superintendent of Schools Lisa Savoia issued a heartfelt statement in which she said, “No words can express what I am feeling at this moment. It is with disbelief and profound sadness that I write this to the family of my friend, an amazing community member, Ann Panzarelli.

“Ann served on the Board of Education for the past 10 years as a member and president. She was a strong advocate for all students and Keyport will never be able to replace her hard work and dedication.

“It was only yesterday that she could be seen sewing a button for a child who had a hole in their Keyport Indians uniform, working the snack stand at the field, spending her money to feed and support children, or volunteering at school functions.

“Ann was truly a ‘Jane’ of all trades and a confidante to many. Ann Panzarelli was the epitome of a selfless person and her impact on the town of Keyport will be felt in the years to come. Working with Ann has truly been an honor; I will always cherish our time together,” Savoia wrote.

According to an obituary posted online by Shore Point Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Hazlet, Panzarelli died at Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank. She lived in Jersey City and Bayonne before settling in Keyport in 1993 with her husband, Russell, to raise their family.

Panzarelli was a volunteer with the Keyport Indians, Cub Scout Pack 364 and Boy Scout Troop 364.

Panzarelli is survived by her husband, Russell M. Panzarelli; children, Anna Maria, Vincent, and Concetta Angelina Panzarelli; parents, Albert and Ann Marie (Egner) Rinaldi; siblings, Mary Rinaldi, Albert Rinaldi, and Danielle Rinaldi; and many nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends, according to the obituary.

A Mass of Christian Burial was offered on March 20 at Our Lady of Fatima Parish – St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Keyport. Entombment followed at St. Joseph Cemetery, Keyport.