Her grandchildren used to call Barbara Lacey, of North Cape May, their "Sgt. Major," said the 83-year-old.
"I was a hard taskmaster," she said of her time raising Chelsea and Trebvor Thomas, now young adults, after their mother died when they were 11 and 10. They were the youngest of five grandchildren she raised in her 70s, Lacey said.
"Whatever I did, right or wrong, I'm sure proud," she said, adding she had help from her family, including John Monaghan, of Galloway Township.
Daughter Mindy Isham, who lives in California, bought her a larger house in the Villas to live in while raising the grandkids, she said.
Both Chelsea, 23, who graduated from Lower Cape May Regional in 2008; and Trebvor, 22, a 2009 graduate, are in the U.S. Marines.
Trebvor just returned from his second deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he was a turret gunner and saw a lot of combat.
Chelsea, who handles radio communications, is heading off to her first deployment there, after spending two years stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
They were visiting Lacey recently, having lunch at the Smithville Inn in Galloway Township, when they realized their waitress, Suzanne Amick, of Cape May, was someone they knew.
"Her daughter went to the prom with Trebvor," Chelsea said. And it turned out that Amick's daughter, Cassandra Hyndes, also had joined the U.S. Marines and is now in Okinawa.
Atlantic Cape Community College student-athletes Abdul Abubakar, of Egg Harbor Township; Danielle Kebert, of North Cape May; Kerry Player, of Woodbine; and Sarah Street, of Egg Harbor City, have received national academic awards from the National Junior College Athletic Association.
Abubakar, 22, a soccer player, has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average and received the NJCAA Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence.
Kebert, 20, plays softball, has earned a 4.0 GPA and is the recipient of the Leadership Award and the Academic Award, and is ranked fifth in the region in batting average.
Player, 20, is on the women's basketball team and the volleyball team. She earned a 3.6 GPA and earned places on the first and second All-Region and All-Conference teams.
Street, 21, is on the women's basketball team and the volleyball team.
She earned a 3.94 GPA, and was named a Woman of the Year by the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports.