Andrea Blumenthal, master teacher, entrepreneur, and scholar, died after a long illness at her Chatham home on June 12. She was 89.
A teacher of history and sociology for many years, mainly at Madison High School but also on the college level, she achieved her greatest renown and impact as the founder and guiding spirit of and lead tutor at Creative Dimensions in Education, a company based in Chatham dedicated to extending the reasoning process embodied in college-prep standardized tests and related skills such as critical reading and analytical writing.
A lifelong learner, she held many advanced degrees including a PhD in medical sociology from Drew University (1991). Her dissertation on Simon Flexner’s successful administration of the Rockefeller Institute, now Rockefeller University, was cited for distinction as a significant contribution to the understanding of medical philanthropy in this country. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, she grew up in nearby Dickson City, where she was valedictorian of her graduating high school class. So many of her best ideas about leadership, she steadfastly maintained, stemmed from her long experience of working in her parent’s highly successful dry goods and appliance store in her hometown. Her undergraduate years were first at Drew and then at Syracuse University, where she graduated as an international affairs major in 1955.
She wrote along with her second husband Jay (her first marriage to Ernest Honecker ended in divorce in 1980) “A Parents’ Guide to College Entrance Exams,” which emphasized that general reasoning can be best understood as the informal proof structure required for forming broadly applicable knowledge—exactly what all students and their parents need.
Her interests were varied and deep: photography, art history, travel, music (she possessed a a superb soprano voice, well suited for opera and the American songbook and many things in between), intellectual history, and TCM classic movies. “An American in Paris” (1951) was a particular favorite.
Immediate survivors include Jay, her husband of 43 years; her daughter Lenore Jacobs of her first marriage who lives in Jupiter, Florida with her husband Russell Kaercher; her grandson Eric Jacobs of Tewksbury, Massachusetts; her sister Donna and her husband Leonard Triggiani of Naperville, Illinois; and their son Paul Triggiani and his wife Lisa-Claire and their children Paul and Marguerite of Bedford, New York.
Andrea’s enduring legacy, she often said, was her belief that a love of learning and the learning of love were forever intertwined. Asked for vivid proof of this claim, she unhesitatingly referred everyone to her unusually successful marriage to Jay, her husband of 43 magical years.