Crash victim from Phillipsburg recalled as faithful woman who loved kids

LAWRENCE -- At 76 years of age, Madie Everitt applied to work at a child care center last fall because she loves kids and wanted to keep busy. It was a part-time gig, but in a matter of weeks, she started making an impact on the pre-schoolers and their...

Crash victim from Phillipsburg recalled as faithful woman who loved kids

LAWRENCE -- At 76 years of age, Madie Everitt applied to work at a child care center last fall because she loves kids and wanted to keep busy.

It was a part-time gig, but in a matter of weeks, she started making an impact on the pre-schoolers and their parents at at Pennington Children's Academy in Hopewell Township, and seamlessly blended with the younger teachers, owner Ismat Shehzad said.

Madie and David Everitt 

Shehzad recalled the energy and ambition Everitt displayed in her interview, which is why she hired her, but she was continually awed over the next months at how quickly she got involved.

She bought supplies with her own money, kept an eye out for items with an owl, the school's logo, and just two months into the job, she bought Christmas gifts for her fellow employees.

"She was a great person, and she was just so good in the school," Shehzad said.

Everitt was killed Jan. 30 on Princeton Pike, her small car struck by a pickup truck driven by a man police believe was having a medical attack and crossed into her lane. Everitt died at the scene; the man survived.

Nice words about Everitt do not surprise her son, Steven Cuoco. 

Cuoco said his mother, who adopted him when he was 7 years old in 1982, followed God's path wherever it took her. 

A native of the Phillipsburg area, Everitt was a nurse by trade, working for many years at St. Luke's Warren Hospital. She currently lived in Lawrence.

Medical attack caused fatal crash, cops say

She was as faithful as one could get, he said. Everitt was a deacon at her church, traveled as a Christian missionary, and loved caring for children on many levels.

Depending on her work in the church, she held several assistant teacher jobs over the years, too. She was also a foster parent.

Cuoco grew up in an abusive, drug-addled home in Phillipsburg and Everitt literally saved his life the day she took him out of it, fostering him starting the day after Christmas in 1982. Madie and her husband, David Everitt, adopted Steven in 1984.

"I am where I am because of this woman's faith," said Cuoco, a model and publicist in Las Vegas.

Cuoco said his extended family was obviously thrown into horrific shock at her sudden death, but her strong faith has comforted them, knowing her life was filled with love.

This past Christmas, David Everitt played Santa Claus at the children's academy. The couple were married for 46 years.

And Madie Everitt was in the process of teaching the children sign language, Shehzad said.

"It's like she was on mission to work with the kids," Shehzad said. Despite her short tenure, "We have many memories of her. We miss her."

Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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