Saying goodbye to an amazing woman, teacher Debra Shanley

The mourners came from all walks — loved ones, students and parents, fellow educators, bikers. “This is the last place I’d ever expected to be, [with] sad faces all around,” one of them at the memorial service for slain Bergenfield High School teacher Debra Shanley told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “It’s a huge line.”

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

They produced a seemingly endless procession in paying respects to Shanley, who authorities said was killed by her husband in their Dumont home before he tried committing suicide.

As darkness fell, the Frech Funeral Home on Washington Avenue in Dumont drew quiet, and the street was again busy with the usual traffic.

“The family was so warm to everyone, especially to the students,” one mourner said, after leaving the service.

As CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM first reported exclusively, the Shanleys were divorcing, with husband Peter, 58, living elsewhere. A week ago tonight, a friend summoned police after Debra Shanley, 54, couldn’t be found. They went to the couple’s house, where they discovered a horrible scene. (See: Estranged husband’s bail $1.5 million….)

Shanley, who lived in Dumont most of her life, gave so much of herself — serving on the Dumont School Board for more than a decade, volunteering for the PTA and Cub Scouts, among other groups. She and her husband had two grown sons, Jason, who is in the US Air Force and Devin, who recently was graduated from Lincoln Technical Institute.

There have been many lovely tributes to her: Teacher’s murder is “the loss of many lives.”


Following a strict policy, CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM kept its distance and did not badger the bereaved.


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