Relatives and friends of legendary English teacher Jean Frulla listen to inspirational words of Warrensburg United Methodist pastor Steve Andrews at Frulla’s funeral held Friday April 5.
An English teacher renowned for her exacting standards who taught three generations of Warrensburg students — and in later years dedicated her time to preserving the town’s history, was recalled fondly by townspeople participating in her funeral services.
Jean Hinckley Frulla, who was born Sept. 23, 1927 in Proctor Vt. but adopted Warrensburg as her hometown, passed away Sunday March 31. Her funeral was held Friday April 5 at the United Methodist Church of Warrensburg. Jean’s husband of 53 years, town councilman Rino Frulla, passed away in 2006.
Warrensburg High School alumnus and former county Sheriff Larry Cleveland, in a eulogy peppered with good-spirited humor, recalled how Frulla had inspired students to pursue excellence, preparing them well for life’s challenges.
“It was sheer terror when high school students learned they got Mrs. Frulla as a teacher,” he quipped, noting she required perfect grammar and syntax from her students in their writing assignments.
“She was strict — she wanted you to do things properly,” he added.
Cleveland continued that compositions students turned in to her would be handed back to them covered with red-penned corrections, time after time, until they were finally resubmitted to her standards.
“At graduation, I was still be correcting compositions that I’d first submitted in September,” he joked. “They had to be perfect.”
Cleveland talked of how she worked with him repeatedly on his oral book reports, which helped him overcome his fears of speaking in front of others. Cleveland has since routinely been making public presentations in his career in law enforcement as well as instructing criminal justice and mortuary science courses, he said. Also, Frulla corrected Cleveland’s Master’s Degree thesis, he added.
“I know she profoundly effected me and I know she did with many others too,” he said, noting she’d likely been a inspiration to thousands of students.
“She was a person of boundless energy, a mentor and a leader,” he said.
Teresa Whalen, a founder of Warrensburgh Beautification, noted that Frulla was dedicated to preserving Warrensburg’s historic buildings and promoting public appreciation for their architecture.
“An outspoken advocate, Jean created fun, educational opportunities for our youth to embrace our past and appreciate our historic resources,” she said.
Whalen said she provided valuable assistance, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, in inventorying the town’s historic resources, and she worked over two decades to help get the Warrensburgh Mills Historic District officially named to the National Register of Historic Places.
“Jean was the Susan B. Anthony for the cause of architectural preservation in our community,” Whalen said.
In his remembrances, David Frulla, son of Jean and Rino, paid tribute for the community of Warrensburg, particularly those who reached out to the couple in their later years.
“No one ever said no,” he remarked. “Mom, sorry I used a double negative,” he added with a smile.
Jean Frulla taught high school English from 1949 to 1990 at Warrensburg High. She mentored student activities, including drama programs, the student newspaper, the National Honor Society chapter, and class trips. During her career, she was honored by the New York State English Council — chosen among thousands of teachers from elementary through college level — as a Teacher of Excellence.
Town Museum of History Director Steve Parisi also wrote this week in an email that Jean Frulla was a leader in the effort to preserve and appreciate local historic buildings. He observed she was a founding member of the Warrensburgh Historical Society, and had guided a class project in creating a video of the Emerson Sawmill, for generations a treasured landmark. He continued that Frulla also made the first and largest contribution towards professional restoration of the 1976 Bicentennial Mural on the exterior wall of the museum.
“Jean Frulla set an example and left an indelible mark on historic preservation efforts in the town of Warrensburg,” Parisi wrote.
United Methodist Pastor Stephen Andrews said Frulla had a positive effect on generations of students through her admirable values.
“She led a wonderful life,” he said. “She has touched all of us in one way or another.”
Cleveland offered a similar thought.
“Her life is a living legacy — we will not forget her”
Alexander Funeral Home handled the arrangements. For online guestbook, or to express condolences, visit www.alexanderfh.net. Expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations in Jean’s name to the building fund of Richards Library, for which she served as a trustee.