Dr. Jeanne Spangler-Carlson has no regrets as she looks back on her life's events.
The Somers Point resident has flown planes and taught school in the rough part of Manhattan, and she continues to make an impact on the Downbeach community.
"I've been very, very active, and all of a sudden I turned 80! It was a big surprise for me," Carlson said.
Carlson had been a psychology teacher and guidance counselor for most of her career, spending 1966 to 1983 at Mainland Regional High School. Afterward, she worked for the Department of Education in Trenton for four and a half years until she decided she missed teaching students.
In addition to teaching, Carlson has served as a councilwoman in Somers Point, is still on the Somers Point Board of Education, is the president of the Friends of the Stockton Performing Arts Center, and acts as the secretary for the Somers Point Historical Society.
"I do a lot of stuff," Carlson said.
One Carlson's students from Mainland, Carmen Marotta, of Tony Mart Presents - a production and promotion company - offered to throw Carlson a birthday party that she and all of her friends in the community could enjoy.
"Jeanie is a friend and a colleague. I went to Mainland Regional, and she's been a good friend to me and hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of my friends," Marotta said.
When Carlson's family approached Marotta about throwing her a special birthday celebration, Marotta jumped at the opportunity.
"It was supposed to be a surprise, but the reason they didn't keep it a secret is because I know all these people, and I have all their emails and (my family) didn't know how they were going to contact everyone," Carlson laughed.
The party, which was hosted at the American Legion in Somers Point, featured entertainment by singer and songwriter Bobby Campanell with guitarist Danny Eyer, who Carlson had sung with before, and food from guests as well as Paul "Grizzly Guy" VanLangen's chicken and pulled pork barbeque, and "Momma Mary Mart's" baked ziti marinara.
The party was free to the public.
"The idea was to invite all of her friends and former students who want to honor her," Marotta said. "She's a hell of a lady."
Carlson said before the event that she planned on wearing a shirt that her daughter bought for her that read, "If things get better with age, I'm nearing perfection."
Carlson keeps a sense of humor and a busy schedule.
"I've had a wonderful, wonderful life," Carlson said. "I have to thank everyone who put the party together. They did a good job."
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