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New Jersey Living Memorial, A Grove of Remembrance
Empty Sky: NJ State 9/11 Memorial
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Fair Haven 9/11 Memorial
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Jean C. DePalma was the classic oldest child, her siblings said, a highly organized and capable woman who succeeded in business and could juggle the demands of career and motherhood. Her brothers and sisters often turned to her for leadership and advice.
"She was the perfect big sister who wanted to take care of everybody and protect everybody," recalled her sister, Francine Michalski of Wayne.
Ms. DePalma, 42, died Sept. 11 at One World Trade Center, where she worked on the 100th floor as a certified public accountant for Marsh USA.
"I had a difficult time in my life, and she made it easier for me by taking charge, and by being kind and giving. Our father always called her 'Mrs. Wonderful,'" recalled Michalski.
Ms. DePalma grew up in Wood-Ridge, the oldest of five children, the one who would organize plays and projects. In 1980, she graduated from Montclair State University with honors and a degree in accounting. For many years before joining Marsh USA, she worked at Campos & Stratis, where she became a partner.
"She had very good business sense, and if there was a predicament, she always knew what to do and how to take control of the situation," recalled her sister, Michele Caviasco of Manhattan. "I admired how she built her way up to a successful career. But she never forgot a birthday, or a card."
Ms. DePalma was both career woman and soccer mom. Her 17-year-old son, Drew, is a gifted soccer player, and Ms. DePalma traveled with him to Los Angeles for tournaments. She took her daughter, Jamie, horseback riding. There was also skiing and tennis.
"Her children were the top of her world," Michalski said.
Ms. DePalma, who lived in West Milford, could multi-task like no one else, which explains how she also had time for volunteer work, her siblings said. She was a parishioner of the St. Joseph R.C. Church in West Milford, where she served as the chairwoman of the parish and elementary school finance committees, and founded a walk-a-thon.
"She was a real go-getter," said her brother, Edmund Caviasco of Ringwood.
Recently divorced, Ms. DePalma was emerging from a difficult personal time, her siblings said. "She was finding herself and becoming happy," said Francine Michalski. "This is so unfair."
In addition to her children, two sisters and brother, Ms. DePalma is survived by another brother, Steven Caviasco of Ramsey, and her parents, Edmund N. and Frances M. Caviasco of Wayne.
A memorial service will be held Oct. 7 at 3:30 at St. Joseph R.C. Church on Germantown Road in West Milford. A Scholarship in Jean DePalma's name has been established at the St. Joseph Elementary School.
Profile by Carol Ann Campbell published in THE STAR-LEDGER