Shade Tree Commission Chairman Louise I. Donoghue (left) and Laura Ortiz, daughter of the late Solveig “Sunnie” Fortune, a long-time teacher at the Atlantic Highlands Elementary School, chat prior to planting of a tree in Mrs. Fortune’s memory next to the school on E. Lincoln avenue. PHOTOS by Peter E. Donoghue.

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS — The borough Shade Tree Commission has honored the memory of Solveig “Sunnie” Fortune, a teacher at the Atlantic Highlands Elementary School for 36 years, just outside the school.

Mrs. Fortune, who died on Nov. 10, 2010, was a life-long resident of the borough, a long-time member of the borough Library Board, a former member of the Board of Education, a Garden Club and Historical Society member and a volunteer at the local food pantry. As part of her 80th birthday celebration, she was honored  by the Library Board as its longest standing member. 


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The ceremony was attended by about 50 people including the school’s sixth graders. Among those who spoke in tribute to Mrs. Fortune were George Wuesthoff, retired elementary school superintendent and a former borough councilman, teachers Judy Grasso and Betsy Kurdes and retired teacher Donna Kocella.

The tree that was planted by borough employees is a lilac.


Jasmine Kelly, great-granddaughter of “Sunnie” Fortune, uses trowel during tree-planting in Atlantic Highlands.

In April, a tree was planted at the West Avenue soccer field, in memory of Eileen F. Colelli, a 39-year resident, member of the Shade Tree Commission and Democratic district committeewoman. She died on Sept. 24, 2012.

The plantings were presided over Shade Tree Commission chairman Louise I Donoghue, a former borough councilwoman. They were conducted to coincide with borough Arbor Day celebrations and were part of a commission program to honor local residents, past or present, for their efforts on behalf of the community.  The borough has been designated a Tree City USA for the past 32 years.


Mrs. Donoghue talks about trees with youngsters at the Public Library.

The commission also conducted its annual poster contest for local students and distributed seedlings to schoolchildren, and Mrs. Donoghue put on a tree-oriented class for youngsters at the public library.

Elementary School Arbor Day poster winners this year included Grace Schutzenhofer, first grade; Margot Stott, second grade; Maneve Sherlock, third grade; Cara Plumker, fourth grade; Corina Vidal, fifth grade, and Lily McLoughlin, Sixth grade. Matt Payne won a special honorable mention. Winning posters are on display in the window of the law office of Henry Wolff on First avenue.    

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...