Anita Kneeley

Anita M. Kneeley (Kelly)

Monday, December 14th, 1936 - Friday, March 20th, 2020
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Anita Maria Cecilia Kneeley passed away unexpectedly at her home in Manasquan, NJ on March 20, 2020.

Anita Maria Kelly was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1936, to James and Eileen Murphy Kelly. It was here, in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn where she met her future husband, Robert James Kneeley. They were married in 1957 and remained devoted to each other until Bob’s death in 2016. Together they raised six children and thrived in the company of their 10 grandchildren.

Anita was a firm believer in the power of education and instilled that in her children and grandchildren. She graduated with honors from St. John’s University in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Philosophy. She earned a Master of Science degree in special education from Monmouth College in 1973.

Anita was steadfast in pursuit of a life with meaning and was dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities and their families. After recognizing a need for specialized programs for disabled students, she returned to school and launched a career in education. As a learning specialist, she developed programs for the Brielle school district, where Anita and Bob had settled to raise their family.

In 1979, Anita was named Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, now LADACIN. When she joined the agency, UCP had a staff of 36 people, a small annual budget and served approximately 125 individuals in the two counties. Seventeen years later, when she retired, the program’s staff of 400 served over 500 individuals and families through an annual budget of $9 million.

Those years in service were spent advocating for and delivering a quality of life and dignity for individuals with special needs through innovative group and independent living homes, vocational training and supported employment. In addition to her role as Executive Director, Anita served as adjunct professor at Monmouth, Fairleigh Dickenson and Georgian Court Universities. She served on numerous boards including OceanFirst Bank Foundation, Children’s Specialized Hospital, and Monmouth County Human Services Advisory Council. Anita’s advocacy will continue to improve life for the disabled and their families, not just in our community but all across the country for years to come.

An avid reader, a lover and supporter of the arts, opera, ballet, theater, she would often attend performances with her children, grandchildren and friends. Anta loved to travel, which she and Bob did extensively during their marriage. Just this past summer she completed a trip of a lifetime with her 5 granddaughters to Italy and Greece.

Anita is survived by six children and their spouses: Richard and Jean Kneeley, Paoli, PA; Robert J. and Cheryl Kneeley, Denver, CO; Anne Marie and Dean Colucci, Summit, NJ; Eileen and Kieran Higgins, Fair Haven, NJ, Stephen and Kathryn Kneeley, Malvern, PA; John Kneeley, Mountain, WI and Donna Kneeley, Wake Forest, NC. She was the loving grandmother of 10: Madeline and Kevin Higgins, Megan Kneeley, Dante, Christian and Niccolo Colucci, Erin and Caroline Kneeley; Hyatt and Lucy Kneeley. Anita is also survived by her sisters and their spouses: Eileen and Francis O’Sullivan, FL, Sheila and Arthur Wagner, SC, Kathleen and Robert DiNardo, NY, numerous nieces and nephews and an extended family around the globe including Ireland and Argentina.

Once family and friends can safely gather again a memorial service to celebrate Anita’s life will be held. You can add a memory about Anita to her page:

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in Anita’s honor to: LADACIN Network, 1703 Kneeley Boulevard, Wanamassa, NJ 07712 or Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, 242 Adelphia Road, Farmingdale, NJ 07727

O’Brien Funeral Home, Wall Township is handling the arrangements on behalf of the family.
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Sean Burke

Posted at 08:24am
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kneeley familly. We just saw Richard and your mom at my dads funeral two months ago. She was quite lively and out going, making the rounds greeting everyone. After my dads passing, your mom reached out to my mom, Charlotte. When the current virus situation changes, I hope we can all get together for a celebration of her life.
Sean and Margot Burke

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