PARAMUS – The public school district was devastated this week by news of the sudden death of Jocelyn Gertel, a long-time middle-school orchestra teacher, a school administrator said Tuesday.
Gertel, who lived in Ridgewood, died following a bicycling accident last week in Hawthorne.
A spokesman for the Hawthorne Police Department was not available to comment Tuesday on details of the accident.
According to online tributes from friends, Gertel was riding her bike downhill when she lost control and pitched over the handlebars. She was taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, where she later died.
“The school community is very devastated by her loss,” said Michele Robinson, superintendent of schools. “She was very well-respected, very well-liked and she will be greatly missed.”
Gertel taught orchestra at both public middle schools in Paramus and had been employed in the district for more than 20 years, Robinson said.
The teacher was a talented violinist who graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in music and from the Manhattan School of Music with a master’s in violin performance. Recently, she was a member of Romanza Music and other ensembles.
It is with heavy heart that we announce the passing of Jocelyn Gertel. Jocelyn was a violinist with our friends… https://t.co/Nxkwxbhr33
— Taylor Event Group (@taylorevent) June 13, 2017
Gertel was also a longtime member of the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey, which also mourned her death.
Fellow cyclist Ken Levins of Tenafly recalled how the cycling team became her family.
“She had so much to give and so many people in our community were touched by her talent and kindness in so many ways,” Levin said on Facebook.
Cello coach Marty Steinberg of West Orange said Gertel’s mother, Barbara, had decided on organ donation “so even in passing, our beloved Jocelyn will be helping others live.”
A graveside service is planned for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Wellwood Cemetery in West Babylon, N.Y. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Gertel’s name to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.