Janice Kucher-Patenaude

Posted by joy

Janice Kucher-Patenaude, longtime Music Department teacher at Montville Township High School, passed away on Thursday, April 13th, 2006 after a long illness. Her husband and daughter survive her.
K-P was one of those unique once-in-a-lifetime personalities and for those of us who were lucky enough to know her during our high school careers, a profound influence. K-P taught us how to stage a good musical, how to breathe properly while in chorus and most importantly, how to develop our personal strengths (even if it was being the chorus attendance taker during senior year). To this day, I still sing along to the Pirates of Penzance.
Thanks, K-P.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, April 22nd, 2006 at 2pm at the United Methodist Church of New Providence in New Providence, NJ. A benefit concert to celebrate her life will be held Saturday, May 13th, 2006 at 8pm at Drew University in Madison, NJ.

Update: 04/17/06: There’s a great number of folks finding this entry from the search engines. Feel free to comment, and I’ll archive this entry and your comments for the future. Also, if anyone sees an official newspaper obituary, I’d appreciate a link sent to my blog@cleverhack.com address.

Update 2: More details at the Alumni site

Fellow students/alums blogging remembrances:

The other Joy from 1992 blogs

A friend

17 Responses to “Janice Kucher-Patenaude”

  1. Nicole L. Says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have been searching around the internet for obituaries of any kind. This woman was everything to me in high school. I have always said that if I were able to do my life over again, I would NEVER go back to high school, but I would if KP were still there. I did Pippin with her in my senior year. During that year, she got me through some of the toughest turmoils a high-schooler ever has to go through and she helped me “pro and con” a lot of personal life decisions. She was a force to be reckoned with, sharing a spirit that no one else had. I thank her in every biography of every playbill of every show that I’ve ever been in. She was amazing…I’m beside myself at this loss…Thank you for letting me comment.

  2. Kathy (Gorman) Gillis Says:

    Jan was a gift to anyone who knew her. She taught at Drury High School in North Adams, Massachusetts, fresh out of Ithaca College. I was fortunate to have had her as a choir teacher, director, mentor and friend. She was gifted and a lot of fun to be around. That song “One” from “A Chorus Line” describes her perfectly. She met her soulmate Joe in North Adams and they were a perfect match. I am so sorry for her Joe and daughter Emma and their families now and also for her recent students at Montville High. I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers. Jan, heaven is far more vibrant with you up there, and you were a singular sensation! You will always be in my heart!

  3. joy Says:

    Two minor updates for the evening of Monday, April 17th 2006. First, in answer to the “Who are you? And when did you graduate?” questions. My name is Joy King Larkin and I graduated MTHS in 1992. In addition to taking chorus attendance with Andria Kwock Wong during senior year, like most of you, I was in the Music Department participating in various activities during my four years in high school. (And little did I ever think that the teenage me and the real life me would ever interesect on this blog.)

    Also, Mariangela Anzalone (MTHS 2001) wrote me this evening and suggested the following idea…

    I don’t know if KP did this while you were around, but when my siblings (two other Montville kids and KP’s biggest fans) and I were at Montville, it was tradition to be a bit of a rainbow at choir concerts; i.e. KP never wanted us wearing black and white or all black. Therefore, we think it would be really great for those going to the memorial service this Saturday to wear bright colored tops and black pants. It was her greatest wish that when we were singing we would be her “jewels” and I think it’s only appropriate that we do it now more than ever.

  4. Jon Says:

    K.P was truly an inspiring person. I hope she new how much she influenced those who were lucky enough to cross paths with her. Just know that up in the heavens shes teaching a bunch of angels choir crunches…

    K.P thank you for being who you are and being such an awesome person.

  5. Russ Reopell Says:

    If ever there was a teacher that change my life, Jan Kucher-Patenaude was the one. I too was a student at Drury High School in North Adams, Massachusetts, and had the distinct honor to know Jan as a teacher, director, mentor, and friend. From the moment I first moved a bench for her during Fiddler on the Roof to closing night of West Side Story (which I was honored to be asked to come back from college and help her final production at DHS). Jan always had a smile, a kind word and time to listen. Some of my fondest memories are from the summers spent as a North Adams Stagehand and our many nights of rehersals. Thank you Jan for all you did for me and for making High School bearable. My thoughts and prayers go out to Joe, Emma, and all those that were touched by this truly inspirational lady. “Follow every rainbow, till you find your Dream.”

  6. Gillian Says:

    KP meant so much to me. She helped me through the most difficult transition of my life when I moved to America from South Africa in my junior year. I feel truly blessed to have had her in my life and completely heart broken knowing that I didn’t get to say goodbye. She once said that she would like to think of herself like a big oak tree with branches and roots reaching out and impacting others. She was that oak tree her whole life and because of they way she lived, she still is that oak tree. It is so evident from all the people, even from years ago, that are writing here about how she touched their lives. I only hope that she knew how much we all love her and appreciate her, even today.

  7. Tom H Says:

    It’s very sad when someone (like this, especially) dies, but how great is it that she will live on through the thousands of students/friends/parents/colleagues’ lives that she touched. She may be gone physically, but she’s still with every one of us who knew and loved her, forever. And when we pass down what we learned from her, we guarantee that she will never truly die.

  8. Michael M Says:

    Please see below the obituary that appeared online in today’s Star-Ledger as well as the one that appeared in print in the April 20, 2006 Star-Ledger. I will also testify to how she lives within me even still. Since she arrived at MTHS my sophmore year, she made quite an impression on my life as well as many others. Having been a veteran of Pippin, Joseph and… and Barnum as well as the summer production of Godspell, she has a special place in my life. At that time, I don’t know what I would have done without her. My prayers are with her and her family. My hope is she has found the joy in death that she deserves.

    KUCHER-PATENAUDE - Janice, of Madison, on Thursday, April 13, 2006, at Compassionate Care Hospice in Dover after a short illness. She was 55. Loving wife of Joseph, chair of the Theatre Arts Department at Drew University, Madison, and devoted mother of Emma. She is also survived by her parents, Howard A. and Mildred L. Kucher of Stirling, N.J., her sister, Joy Montana of Grand Rapids, Minn., and brothers, Lawrence Kucher and his wife, Mary Flynn, of Morristown, N.J., J. Howard and his wife, Cindy Leahy, of Baltimore, Md., and Jeff Kucher of Stirling, N.J. A memorial service for Janice will be held on Saturday, April 22, 2006, at 2 p.m. at the United Methodist Church of New Providence. In lieu of flowers, donations in Janice’s name can be made to K-P Fund, c/o Howard Kucher, 1165 Long Hill Road, Stirling, N.J. 07980. Arrangements are with BURROUGHS, KOHR & DANGLER FUNERAL HOME, Madison, N.J.
    Published in the Star-Ledger on 4/20/2006.

    Janice Kucher-Patenaude, 55, theatre teacher, choral director
    A memorial service for Janice Kucher-Patenaude, 55, of Madison will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in the United Methodist Church of New Providence.
    Arrangements are by the Burroughs, Korh & Dangler Funeral Home, Madison.
    Mrs. Kucher-Patenaude, who died April 3 in the Compassionate Care Hospice, Dover, was the choral director, theatre teacher and director of plays and musicals at Montville Township High School the past 24 years. Earlier, she directed plays and musicals at Drury High School in North Adams, Mass.
    A 1973 cum laude graduate of Ithica (N.Y.) College with a batchelor’s degree in music, she earned her master’s degree in creative arts education from Rutgers University in 1985.
    Mrs. Kucher-Patenaude also founded the “Cherry Tree Players” in Montville and produced several summer musicals with students and alumni from the Montville pulic schools. She also founded the “North Adams Stagehands” in Massachusetts, which produced summer musicals.
    Mrs. Kucher-Patenaude was instrumental in bringing “The Names Project: AIDS Memorial Quilt” to Montville High School.
    Her choirs appeared at various events and concerts, including Carnegie Hall, Dorney Park and Walt Disney World, and als regulary represented Morris County at the State Teen Arts Festival.
    Mrs. Kucher-Patenaude was a member of the New Jersey Education Association and the Music Educators National Conference.
    Born in Irvington, she lived in West Caldwell before moving to Madison 10 years ago.
    Surviving are her husband, Joesph Patenaude; a daughter, Emma Patenaude; her parents, Howard A. and Mildred L. Kucher; a sister, Joy Montana, and brothers, Lawrence, Howard and Jeff Kucher.

  9. Nadia Q. Says:

    K-P introduced me to the wonderful world of Broadway:) I remember when I told her that I had never seen a Broadway show before, it was like she had never heard of such a tragedy. So she up and arranged for a school field trip so i could see my first Broadway show, Tommy. I will always be grateful to K-P for making me feel special, beautiful, and pretending to like my voice;) This is truly a great loss for all whose lives she has touched….and whose lives she will never touch.

  10. Saj Surve Says:

    It’s wonderful to see some familiar names on this blog, but of course the of tcircumstances couldn’t be more remorseful.

    I’m a 1997 grad of MTHS, and alumnus of Man of La Mancha ‘94, Godspell ‘94, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat ‘95, Anything Goes ‘96, Pippin ‘97, and Godspell ‘00.

    All that I am and all that I have I directly attribute to Jan’s influence on my life. I call her Jan because she specifically asked me to do so, otherwise she would always be remembered by me as KP. She took a quiet, insecure, pimply-faced freshman with a moustache, and taught him the joy of performance, the importance of spirituality, the meaning of life, and the essence of self-expression. I did more growing and maturing in that year than any other before or since. Her wisdom has stayed with me to this very day, guiding my decisions and shaping my personality.

    Not many people know this, but it was Jan that pushed me to become a physician despite my love of and talent for music. She saw through me to my soul and realized that my path was to help people heal. I’ve never regretted my decision to pursue medicine, which would have been impossible without her support. Of course music is still a very large part of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    As if the above wasn’t enough, I also owe Jan for facilitating the meeting of my wife. I met the love of my life while doing Joseph, and we’ve been inseperable since. Our time with Jan is something we will always cherish.

    It seems that the brightest stars always burn out before their time, and we can’t help but feel blessed for the opportunity to experience the extraordinary warmth and brilliant light they provide while they are here.

    Jan, you will be missed.

  11. Christine Laird Says:

    Hello, all… I’m also a North Adams alumni from 1977. I had the joy of having Jan as my teacher and director for 4 years, and also experienced being in awe of and singing with Joe Patenaude, who was a year ahead of me in school. What a gift those years were, and isn’t it amazing to revisit them again. Rusty and Kathy - such a joy to see your names here.

    When I was an awkward teenager, I knew I loved to sing but never believed that I could have a lead in a show, sing a solo. Jan gave me the confidence to believe in myself and what a difference that has made. I went on to a master’s degree in voice, singing all the while, and now continue to sing, teach voice, and also am an arts administrator for a music series. The things I learned from Jan in those “formative years” stayed with me forever and shaped who I am as a musician and as a person. She was a true gift.

    Joe, in the last three months Jan kept popping into my head; I googled her name, found an email address, and came so close to writing so many times, but life’s demands got in the way. I am so sorry I’d lost touch and didn’t contact her when something was telling me I should. Please know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers now and always.

    I lost my oldest brother Don three years ago; he was a wonderful singer and muse. I hope he and Jan meet up and start planning some heavenly musical events.

  12. SERGIO DEMO Says:

    Jan actively recruited me for the part of Conrad Birdie in Bye-Bye Birdie for the spring musical of 1973 at Drury High School. It was probably her first production. She took quite a gamble since she had no idea if I could sing, act, or dance. I guess I just looked the part. I wasn’t very good but Jan provided me with one of my fondest high school memories. The world has become a duller, less colorful place due to her passing.

  13. John Chang Says:

    I too was a graduate of MTHS…class of ‘95. I’m sitting here staring at a screen trying to think of what to write. What can I say about KP that hasn’t already been side. Even still what can I say about the most influential person in my life. For 3 years of high school I was the stereotypical “jock”. I only wound up in KP’s class as a favor to my friend, Nadia. However it was KP would opened my eyes to the world of music. She showed me that there was so much more to life and that sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind to enjoy the ride. I couldn’t begin to tell you how right she was…everything that has happened to me since high school I owe to KP. My part in Joseph and the Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat, my friendship with Sajid and his wife Alexis, and even my wife whom I would have never met if not for Saj.

    I will miss KP…she was a teacher…a mentor…but most importantly she was a FRIEND!

  14. John Chang Says:

    I too was a graduate of MTHS…class of ‘95. KP was an inspiration. There is not other way to say it, just reading all the comments that everyone has made just reinforces the fact that KP was a muse to a lot of people. However, like everyone else, she was more than just a muse and a teacher…she was a FRIEND.

    Everyone here owes a great deal of who they are and who they have become to KP, myself included. What more can I say that hasn’t already been said about KP. She touched my life and today I say goodbye to an Angel…she returns to the world from where she came.

    KP…you will always be loved!

  15. joy Says:

    Articles covering Saturday’s benefit concert for K-P



  16. Marie Says:

    I was one of her students at Drury. She introduced us to so much amazing music. Coming from haiti, she was one of the few people who made me feel welcome. She found a spot for sore thumb me in every musical :) I think of her often and will continue to do so. I’m grateful to have known her.

  17. Dan Kaufman Says:

    I am so sad to read about JKP’s passing, and the subsequent passing of her husband last year. I only knew Janice for the year that she taught at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, NJ. In that one year, though, we got to know each other very well. I would stop by her office every day before homeroom, and then I had her for madrigal singers first period. We helped each other through what was a difficult year for both of us–hers because she was competing against the memory of a beloved teacher who had left, and mine because, well, because of lots of things a senior goes through :)

    I remember her amazing piano playing, how much she missed her former school, the ways she tried to lighten us up when we were nervous (like holding up sheets of paper with funny things written on them that only we could see during concerts), and finding her paper to tear up before a performance–a stress reliever for her.

    She was strong, talented, bright, and she let all of that shine through even when she was not feeling the love from the school administration. Her students at LHS came to love her, as it is apparent those at her subsequent school system did as well. I’m sorry I lost track of her, only now to find out it’s too late to get back in touch.


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