Obituary: Doreen Nilan
Doreen Nilan, formerly of Montclair, passed away on April 14 in West Orange.
She was born in London in 1925 to Albert and Elsie Vincent and grew up in Ilford, an eastern district of the city. During World War II her neighborhood was frequently bombed and was the last one to be hit by a V-2 rocket targeting London, in March 1945. During the war she worked for Cable & Wireless in Temple Place.
She met her future American husband, Tom, at a dance during a December 1944 air raid, hours before he shipped out to the Belgian front during the Battle of the Bulge. They renewed their relationship in the summer of 1945, while he was training as an MP for the Pacific theater prior to the Japanese surrender.
Subsequent to his return to the States they continually corresponded, and Tom’s family provided hers with precious food parcels through 1954, as the British postwar years were difficult with rationing.
In 1947, their separate letters proposing a union simultaneously crossed the Atlantic, and they married and honeymooned in England that September. They initially lived with Tom’s family in Jersey City, and shortly thereafter started their family in Montclair.
Doreen converted to Catholicism in the early years of their marriage, and was unselfish and devoted to her family. She gave herself to St. Cassian parish, volunteered in Newark’s Mother Teresa Kitchen, supported Tom in his deaconate services, occasionally helping him draft his many homilies, and participated in other charitable activities.
She enjoyed storytelling, playing bridge, the environs of Budd Lake, Deer Lake and the Jersey Shore, knitting, traveling - especially visiting her English family - gardening, walking, seeing her grandchildren, her times with loving caregivers, and visits by her children.
This time of year she would be anticipating walks in the Presby Iris Gardens and viewing the blossoms of Brookdale Park. She was one of the last survivors of that great postwar generation of St. Cassian’s. Those who met her saw the face of God; those who cherished her saw His loving light and everlasting truth.
She was predeceased by her husband of 63 years, Thomas, and her dearest son Kevin; her parents, Albert and Elsie; her brothers, Frankie and George, and sisters, Phyllis and Elsie. She was the mother of Eileen Streiter (Edward), Thomas Nilan Jr. (Kathleen), John Nilan (Kathy), Kevin Nilan, Jeanne Michalov (Daniel), Mary Degnan (Timothy), Peter Nilan (Joan), and Joseph Nilan (Pamela). She had 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Eileen Newton, sister-in-law, Marie Vincent, and many nieces and nephews in England.
In memory of Doreen, donations can be made to St. Cassian R.C. Church, 187 Bellevue Ave., Upper Montclair, NJ 07043. A memorial Mass will be offered at Saint Cassian Church at a future date. For online condolences please visit www.moriartyfh.com.