Cover photo for Mrs. Frieda F. Feller's Obituary
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Mrs. Frieda F. Feller

July 21, 1920 — November 19, 2020

Frieda F. Feller, 100, died peacefully, November 19, in her home in Highland Park, where she had been a resident since 1949.
Born Frieda Estelle Finklestein, July 21, 1920, in Newark, NJ, to Newark attorney Samuel B. Finklestein and Hattie (Klein) Finklestein, Mrs. Feller attended the Maple Avenue School and Weequahic High School before attending the New Jersey College for Women (NJC), now Douglass College. She received a B.A. in both French and Spanish in 1941. She also attended Seton Hall, where she completed a minor in Italian, and the language school at Middlebury College. She returned to graduate school as a mature student and earned a Master’s degree in Urban Education from Trenton State, now The College of New Jersey.
While at Douglass, she met Robert M. Feller, a Rutgers student, who became a local businessman and was very active in the community. They married in 1942. Five months later, Mr. Feller enlisted in the Army and was shipped overseas with the 11th Armored Division. From January 1942 until VJ Day, August 14, 1945, Mrs. Feller worked 6 days a week as a translator in the New York branch of the U.S. War Service Office of Censorship, in Codes, Cyphers, and Secret Inks. She utilized her background in Romance languages to examine correspondence either leaving the country or in transit across the U.S. from one foreign country to another. Mail addressed to enemy countries was stopped, opened, and checked. She was charged with looking for information that might endanger U.S. citizens or benefit the enemy. Her work contributed to the apprehension of a German operative living on Staten Island, for which effort she was awarded a Certificate of Merit. She contributed her story to the Rutgers Oral History Archives, of which she was a charter member, and continued for a number of years to share her WWII experiences with students in the Rutgers History Department. She has also been included in both the Douglass Alumnae Magazine and in Rutgers Magazine features on WWII.
As her children were growing up, Mrs. Feller tutored French and Spanish at home and also took a real estate broker’s license. She managed the Highland Park office of Feller & Feist for a few years. She taught Spanish at the Highland Park Middle School, and then French at the high school there and completed her Master’s degree in 1976. When advised that the Rutgers Graduate School of Education was desperate for foreign language-knowledgeable supervisors for its student teachers, Mrs. Feller returned to the University as an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School and also at Douglass, in the Education Department. For 13 years, until the age of 70, she traveled the State evaluating and advising student language teachers in their classes. In addition to her supervisory duties, she also taught courses in Educational Psychology and Curriculum to both undergraduate and graduate students.
Throughout her life, Mrs. Feller always maintained close ties with the University and, in particular, with Douglass and the Alumnae Association. She served as secretary for the Class of ’41 for many years and later as its president and also served on various Alumnae committees. For her lifetime of devotion to Douglass, she was honored in 2007 with an Alumnae Recognition Award.
Mrs. Feller is predeceased by her parents; twin sister, Julienne S. Winarsky; and her husband, who died in 2004.
She is survived by her son, Arthur, of Arlington, VA; daughter Barbara and son-in-law Michael Bassano, of Allentown, PA; grandson Sam Feller; wife Sarah; their children, Alexander Robert and Sydney Jules, of Somerville, MA; and granddaughter Kayla Feller Mitsutomi, husband Yuichiro Mitsutomi and son Kenji Mateo, in Hong Kong.
A private graveside funeral service (Crabiel Parkwest Funeral Chapel) will be held at the Washington Cemetery, Monmouth Junction. PLEASE STAY SAFE; STAY HOME. The Feller family has requested that memorial donations be made to the AADC-Douglass Annual Appeal, 181 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 or the RUF-FBO DRC, c/o Accounting, 120 Albany Street Plaza-Suite #201, New Brunswick, NJ 08901; the Rutgers Oral History Archives (ROHA), 88 College Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1108; or to the Jewish organization of one’s choice.
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