Moorestown BOE member creates scholarship to memorialize 1984 MHS grad

The Nicole de la Parra Reyher Designer Scholarship is awarded annually to a MHS senior.

Ed Reyher and Ann Marie Reyher

Moorestown High School Class of 1984 graduate Nicole de la Parra Reyher was happily raising her three toddlers with her husband in Maple Shade when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer, Neuroendocrine Carcinoma, in 2007. Doctors gave her less than five years to live.

Nicole informed her husband, Ed, that her dying wish was for her family to move to Moorestown so her children could be raised in the town she loved and grew up in. Five weeks before her passing, Ed honored her wish and moved the young children to Moorestown. Nicole lost her battle with cancer on Jan. 8, 2010 at the age of 43.

In 2012, Ed met Ann Marie Casinelli — now Ann Marie Reyher — and the pair married a year later. When Ed was getting ready to celebrate his 50th birthday last year, Ann Marie decided to surprise him with something special.

Ann Marie reached out to all of Ed’s family and friends who were planning to attend his birthday party, and told them about an idea she had to start a scholarship in Nicole’s name. The partygoers all donated to the Nicole de la Parra Reyher Designer Scholarship in place of bringing a gift, raising a total of $7,000.

“This scholarship was established to memorialize and celebrate the life of Nicole,” Ann Marie said.

Ann Marie and Ed now live in Moorestown with their combined five children. One of Ann Marie’s motivators in founding the scholarship was to give Nicole’s children a tangible way to remember and honor her. Nicole’s daughter, Renee, informed Ed of the scholarship at the party, and Ann Marie said it was the first and only time she had ever seen Ed cry.

“It was something I’ve never seen of him before because he’s so strong,” she said.

Pictured from left are Ann Marie Reyher, Lauren Reyher, Renee Reyher, Jeffrey Reyher, Ryan Casinelli, Sean Casinelli, Ed Reyher.

Ed describes Nicole as analytical, funny and hard working. She had a learning disability, which is why the scholarship doesn’t target students with the best grades or highest GPAs — Nicole barely earned passing grades. Ed spoke at the 2017 Moorestown High School Senior Recognition Reception and Awards Ceremony on June 13.

“This struggle set in her a will to succeed and a strong work ethic,” Ed said of Nicole’s disability. “I hope this scholarship will be able to continue for a long time to preserve Nicole’s memory and to help future students who are pursuing their educational dream.”

Nicole attended Rochester Institute of Technology where she earned a bachelor’s degree in package design. She later worked at several companies where she applied her expertise and experience, earning several patents. She loved gardening, painting, the beach, skiing and, most of all, her children.

“She was very devoted to her children,” Ann Marie said. “She lived for these kids.”

Nicole de la Parra Reyher.

Nicole’s twins, Lauren and Jeffrey, are now 10, and her daughter Renee is 12.

This year, the $750 scholarship hosted by MoorArts was awarded to senior Sophie Shields. The scholarship, which is in its second year, is awarded to students with exceptional art, design or engineering skills who will major in package design, the arts or anything STEM-related in college.

“This scholarship is for someone who had some struggles and fought through it,” Ann Marie said.

Those who wish to donate to the Nicole de la Parra Reyher Designer Scholarship can visit www.MoorArts.org or can mail a check to MoorArts, Attn: Treasurer, P.O. Box 465, Moorestown. Checks should be made out to “Nicole de la Parra Reyher Designer Scholarship.”

“I thought the scholarship would be good so [Nicole’s children could] understand what an impact she had on this world,” Ann Marie said. “I always tell them, ‘You’re never going to get over it, but I want you to celebrate it.’”