In the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Village Green has been dedicated to documenting the lives of local residents and members of the South Orange and Maplewood community who have succumbed to the illness, putting faces to the names and numbers. As we continue to discover information, we will work to post stories.
A recent article in NJ.com revealed that Joseph Oge, a bus driver with the South Orange-Maplewood School District who died last April, was a victim of COVID-19.
At the time of his death, Board of Education member Shannon Cuttle posted about Oge on their Facebook page: “It is with deep sadness that Joseph Oge a beloved SOMSD school bus driver with 16 years of service has passed away on April 21, 2020. My thoughts are with his family and our SOMSD community.” The Board of Education also remembered Oge in a resolution.
Oge’s daughter Debbie Green posted a gofundme (now disabled) to cover funeral expenses. In it, she wrote: “On April 21, 2020, my dad Joseph Oge took his last breath due to complications with COVID-19. Anyone that knew my dad well knew that all he wanted was to reach retirement and enjoy his native country Haiti with my mom. He always had a smile on his face and was always willing to lend a helping hand whether it was needing help with your car, help fix things around your house, he was such a handy man. Joseph leaves behind his wife Monique, three daughters Monia, Chantal, and Debbie, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.”
Reached for comment, Michelle Rhodes, a spokesperson for the South Orange Maplewood Education Association, said, “As we near the anniversary of his passing, we want to take a moment to reflect upon what a great and generous man he was and how much he is missed by his school family. SOMEA expresses our sincere condolences to Joseph’s family and friends.”
School district Spokeswoman Anide Eustache said that Oge was a “dedicated employee and our condolences were shared with his family.”
Oge was remembered in a resolution at the May 11, 2020 Board of Education meeting, along with retired bus driver Richard Fanning, who passed away on April 16, 2020.
Eustache further explained that “information about the health, illness, or death of a SOMSD staff member does not come from the District. We share the news of someone’s death (not necessarily the cause) when we are contacted by their family or if an obituary is posted (then it is public information). Unless the family asks us not to share, we announce it to colleagues and/or their building principal (who in turn share it with staff and families/students as necessary).”