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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Remembering Molly Banta

Mary (Molly) Banta, longtime Plainfield
High School teacher and community activist.
(Image courtesy of Nancy Piwowar.)

Mary Banta, beloved longtime Plainfield teacher and community activist, known to all as "Molly," passed away Monday after a long battle with cancer.

Born at Muhlenberg Hospital in 1956, Molly was the granddaughter of Henry Banta, also a lontime Plainfield High School history teacher and administrator and her role model.

In her youth, growing up in Westfield, Molly was active in YMCA youth programs, competing in regional and national competitions as a synchronized swimmer. A graduate of Westfield High School, she earned a bachelor's degree in history from Goucher College in Baltimore.

She later earned a master's degree in history from University College, Dublin (Ireland) of which she had many fond memories, and avidly appreciated her Celtic culture and heritage along with her lifelong best friend Joy Mattson.

In the course of her 22-year career as a history teacher at Plainfield High School, and later PAAAS, the district's advanced high school, Molly influenced the lives and love of learning of generations of Plainfield young people.

Molly Banta (3rd from left, back row) is shown with
fellow board members of the Historical Society of Plainfield
in March, 2015. (Photo, David Rutherford. See here.)

Living not far from Cook School, Molly was also tirelessly involved in community activities. She was an ardent supporter of the Drake House Museum, at which she served as a docent and volunteer, as well as the Historical Society of Plainfield, on whose board of directors she served with distinction.

A lifelong Democrat, Molly was active in local politics as a member of the New Democrats political club and a district committeewoman on the Plainfield Democratic City Committee.

Visitation is at the Dooley Funeral Home, 556 Westfield Avenue, Westfield on Friday (February 26) from 4:00 - 8:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at Holy Trinity Church, 315 First Street, Westfield, Saturday (February 27) at 9:30 AM.

In lieu of flowers, Molly requested donations be made to the Historical Society of Plainfield (see here) or Center for Hope Hospice in Scotch Plains (see here). Condolences may be left on the Dooley Funeral Home website here.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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