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Mary Ellen Clark and Mike Castoro


Randy Haviland and Joan Poole

Randy and Mary Ellen met in the Fall of 1973, when Mary Ellen took her first bassoon lesson as a freshman music education major at Douglass College, Rutgers University. Randy was an excellent teacher and mentor and became Mary Ellen’s Senior Thesis Advisor. Although we lost touch over the years, about 30 years later, we discovered that both of us had transitioned to new (non-musical) careers, and were working in the same building at Johnson and Johnson Headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ! We quickly rekindled our friendship and included our spouses, Mike and Joan. After Randy’s retirement from J&J, the four of us began socializing and enjoying music concerts, cooking international cuisines together and traveling to interesting places for the next twenty years until Randy’s illness precluded these types of activities. Mary Ellen and Joan have stayed in touch and continued regular contact through our book club discussion group and Facetime catch-up sessions. We are especially grateful to Randy and Joan as they provided safe haven for us twice when we needed to be evacuated from our Jersey shore home due to severe hurricanes.

We honor both Joan and Randy, not only as very special friends, but also as role models for handling the challenges of difficult diagnoses and in-home caregiving with practicality, dignity, and compassion. We sorely miss Randy since his recent passing, but the thread of music and his influence on our lives is eternal.