Lenape High family remembers a beloved secretary
Beloved longtime Lenape Regional High School District employee Mary Jane Mullen passed away May 14.
When Lenape High School first opened its doors in 1958, Mary Jane Mullen was a member of the inaugural sophomore class. A month after graduation in 1961, she was hired as a secretary at her alma mater.
Mullen’s Lenape senior yearbook noted of her: “Wants to become a real good secretary …”
A “real good secretary” is what she became in 61 years, while approaching each day with love, kindness and caring that impacted not only Lenape students and staff, but the overall culture of the school, according to the district.
Mullen passed away on May 14 at 79. She was predeceased by her parents, Mark Lippincott and Mary Lippincott, and her husband, William J. Mullen, according to her obituary. She is survived by her son, Mark W. Mullen (Renee) of Marlton, and her grandsons, Dylan Mullen and Tyler Boswick (Heather). She is also survived by numerous cousins and many grand fur-babies.
According to the Lenape Superintendent Carol Birnbohm, Mullen had a knack for knowing when students needed extra attention, a friendly smile, a hug or just a handful of candy. They would flock to her office, welcomed with Mullen’s gregarious energy, infectious laugh and kind eyes.
Mullen also built true friendships with staff in her daily interactions and personal note writing.
“I always knew that Mary Jane spent time writing personal notes of encouragement, gratitude and love to many of us at Lenape, but it was striking to hear, as faculty shared stories about Mary Jane, that she did this for a countless number of people at Lenape, including their family members,” said Birnbohm.
“It seems nearly impossible to write thousands upon thousands of personalized notes, which touch the hearts of countless individuals, but that is exactly what Mary Jane did.”
It also was common for Mullen to buy Christmas ornaments, tchotchkes for desks with motivational quotes and other gifts for students and staff. Her level of recognition alone changed lives.
Lenape Principal Anthony Cattani noted that nearly every alumnus who tours the school as part of class reunion activities asks about Mullen.
“… Without fail,” he added, “the first thing they ask is, ‘Is Mary Jane still here?'”
Cattani has encountered Lenape graduates during his travels around the country, who share their memories of high school and remember how Mullen made them feel.
Cattani and Birnbohm noted that the high school’s main office will forever be changed by the loss of a woman who was the heart of Lenape. The school will plan a special way to memorialize Mullen in the near future.