May 20, 1931 - February 22, 2021
May 20, 1931 - February 22, 2021
Edward G. Molina
May 20, 1931 – Feb 22, 2021
Vernon - Edward George Molina, age 89, passed away peacefully and gently, surrounded by his family on Monday, February 22, 2021. He died of a pulmonary condition, which he fought valiantly and without complaint for several years.
Ed was born on May 20, 1931 in Washington, DC, to Antonio E. Molina and Alice M. (Connelly) Molina. He lived briefly with his family in Puerto Rico from age 3 to 6 - an experience which left him with a lifelong appreciation for foreign cultures, as well as a penchant for Spanish food and sangria! While living in Puerto Rico, his mother contracted an island disease and died quite suddenly when he was just 6 years old. Following her death, his family returned to the United States. In 1937, Ed moved to East Orange, NJ, where he was raised by his paternal grandparents, Edward Charles Molina (a self-taught mathematical genius) and Virginia C. (Costales) Molina. He greatly admired his grandfather, for both his career achievements (his inventions for AT&T Bell led to the creation of the rotary dial on the telephone), and his social conscience. His grandfather believed strongly in “Noblesse Oblige”, and in that spirit, would open his home to feed, shelter and give odd jobs to many an unemployed traveler during the Great Depression. This charitableness left a strong impression on young Edward and he himself followed suit in his adult life. He was deeply concerned about social justice and matters of politics. He fought for teachers’ rights and was a staunch Democrat throughout his life.
After graduating from Clifford J. Scott High School in East Orange, Edward enlisted in the United States Navy (with his best friend, Ian McDonald, with whom he had shared many prior shenanigans). He served for four years during the Korean War. Upon receiving his honorable discharge, he attended Montclair State Teachers College, where he attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies (with a minor in English), played college football, and fell in love with his wife, Odette J. (Nogues) Molina. (Odette was an exchange student from France, who needless to say, never returned... Eddie had swept her off her feet!) He later attained a Master’s Degree in English from William Patterson College. Upon graduation, the young couple left Montclair and moved to Lake Swannanoa in Jefferson, NJ, where they resided for several years with their 4 children. During this time, they made many lifelong friends. Eventually they relocated to Vernon, NJ, in 1966, where they settled for good (because, he said, the mountainous rural landscape reminded his wife of her native land in the South of France).
Ed’s early teaching jobs were at Morris Hills Regional High School, Wayne High School, and Parsippany High School, respectively. In 1964, he bought and briefly ran the Western Auto store in Sussex, NJ, before securing a fulltime substitute teachers job at the former Sussex High School, teaching English. The store was left in the capable hands of his wife (and also a valued student, Steve Brown) the very next year, when Ed was offered a full-time teaching position at the new (and long anticipated) High Point Regional High School. There he taught Social Studies, along with coaching the varsity football team for two decades. (He remained there until his retirement in 1986.) Ed was passionate about teaching and greatly enjoyed this portion of his life, and he developed many very close friendships with his colleagues over the years. During this time, there were frequent house parties and many crazy antics with his rowdy fellow teachers (you know who you are). Meanwhile, Odette was remarkably tolerant of it all.
He also had a great passion for coaching, and would arrive home hoarse many an afternoon from screaming too loudly on the field. Coach Molina wrote the lyrics to the school’s official fight song, ‘Wildcats’ Roar’ (Werner Lutz composed the music). He also worked as an assistant coach for a one-year period at Pope John XXIII Regional High School, with the late Victor Paternostro. In addition, he wrote a sports column for the NJ Herald in or around 1976.
Ed was a great teacher and mentor, who took his role very seriously. He was also committed to making learning fun. I’m sure many of his students will remember having to report “T & E’s” (thrilling and exciting things) they learned from the news that week, and his one frequent admonishment: “Don’t be a turkey!” Ed was a lover-of-life, with a great “joie de vivre”, and tried to make everything he did some kind of exciting adventure. He loved to laugh and socialize and had many lifelong friendships that meant the world to him. He loved casual get-togethers and “shooting the breeze”. Over the years, he was an active member of the NJEA, The American Legion, The Kiwanis Club, The Elks Club and the VFW.
In his retirement years, he spent each winter with his wife in Florida, where he made more boisterous friends. His lifelong hobbies were fishing, golfing, reading, dining, family board games, and, of course, football! He also loved exploring, traveling, discovering new places and things, and uncovering history wherever he went… especially during their annual trips to France and other places in Europe. His favorite movie was Casablanca, and upon entering a room, would often say: “You were expecting maybe Humphrey Bogart?” His favorite song was “As Time Goes By”. He enjoyed singing old tunes from the 40’s and 50’s, at the top of his voice, in an old fashioned 1940’s style croon. He was also crazy about good Jazz.
Ed was famous for telling great jokes, often slightly off-color, and was the life of any party. He had a riotous sense of humor and great comedic timing and delivery. He was truly larger than life and a real character - a wise cracking boy from East Orange, NJ in the 1930’s & 40’s. He had the build of a linebacker and a heart of gold, with a great tenderness and compassion for all living things - people and animals alike. While outwardly a tough guy, he had a very soft heart. He also had a distinct soft spot for what he would fondly call the “underdog”. And although he would not say he was a man of faith, his life was the embodiment of love and kindness. He had a keen awareness and tenderness for another person’s pain and strife, and was always ready to lend an ear or a hug. He couldn’t bear to see suffering of any kind and was quick to offer help wherever it was needed. He always had a smile and a kind word for everyone he met, and would often open his home to almost anyone in need. (Indeed, many a wayward traveler was welcomed into our home. They were treated as a valued family member by both Ed and Odette.) In his later years, everyone associated with him called him “Grandpa”, at his request. Perhaps because he lost his mother so young, and was given by his father to his grandparents to be raised… it seems this experience made him sensitive to people’s need for a place to call home. He was quite fond of saying “Mi casa es su casa.” and you knew he meant it.
But above all else, Ed loved his family. He was a devoted, endearing and hands-on father – who was always angling for some little known “father of the year” award. Taking his kids ice-fishing, camping, bowling, exploring and apple-picking were some of the many ways he tried to earn that award. Unbeknownst to him, he never needed to go farther than his own dining room table. His wife and children adored just sitting around listening to him tell his colorful stories! He was truly one of a kind. We know he was warmly welcomed back home on the other side... but our home now has a hole in it as big as the galaxy! He is greatly missed!
Edward is survived by his wife and best friend of 65 years, Odette Molina; his son, Jean-Marc (pronounced John) Molina; his three daughters, Michelle Wallen, Nicole Molina (and spouse Robert Donovan), and Ginette Molina (and longtime partner, Michael Collins). He also leaves behind 5 grandchildren, Charlie Ajaj (and spouse, Erin), Michael Wallen, Jake Molina, Ian Donovan and Sophie Molina; and two great-granddaughters, Charlie and Frankie. Edward also leaves behind his niece, Jenny Janz, many in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews in France; and last, but not least, his beloved dog, Meaty, who was always at his side. (He was predeceased by his sister, Alice Molina - a fellow teacher, and Steven P. Brown - an honorary family member of many years… both of whom left us far too soon.)
They say that the pain of your grief is equal to your love... so we will take the present pain. It was worth it!! (Keep the faith, Grandpa!)
Private cremation services have been entrusted to the Ferguson’s Funeral Home. There will be no memorial at his request. Donations may be made in Edward G. Molina’s memory to the ASPCA. Online condolences may be offered to the family at Ferguson’s Funeral Home, NJ (fergusonfuneralhomesnj.com)
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