Mae Janet Balaban of Tenafly, N.J., and Chilmark died Wednesday, June 26, after a long illness. She was 79.
Her death was caused by pulmonary problems which followed emergency heart surgery last October. She was born in the Highbridge section of the Bronx to Babe and Selma Matler on Sept. 11, 1933. Educated in New York city schools and colleges, she was among the first female students to attend the Bronx High School of Science and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in speech and language pathology at Brooklyn College, and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.
She married Dan Balaban, a writer at the Village Voice, in 1960 and moved from New York to Bergen County, N.J., in 1965.
But before that, in the 1950s, Mae, lithe and light in form, was for a short time a dancer with the Eric Hawkins Dance Company.
An avowed atheist, her first teaching job was at an Orthodox Jewish school in Brooklyn, from which she was fired for celebrating Halloween with her class.
She then went on to her lifelong career as a speech and language pathologist with a specialty in learning disabilities. In 1966 she founded the Institute for Child Development and Communication Disorders at Hackensack Hospital and served as its director for 17 years, after which she opened a private practice in Teaneck, N.J., Mae J. Balaban & Associates, which is still in operation. She was an active member of the New Jersey Speech and Hearing Association (NJSHA) and the New Jersey International Dyslexia Association, and the recipient of many professional awards and honors. In 2008 NJSHA awarded her its highest honors in recognition of contributions to the field.
Through her various teaching positions with Montclair State University, Fairleigh Dickinson College, Yeshiva University and Teacher’s College, Columbia University, she shared a wealth of wisdom and inspired many students and young professionals in the field.
She put together a close-knit loving family, made many, many friends at work and play and had a quick wit and a fiery zest for life. One of the highlights of the more than 50 summers she and Dan had on the Vineyard was walking at Squibnocket and sunsets at Menemsha while suppering on chowder and clams on the half shell from Larsen’s and fried fish from The Galley. Mae is survived by her beloved husband, Dan Balaban, of Tenafly and Chilmark; her three children, Nick Balaban and his wife, Maura, of Brooklyn, N.Y., Jason Balaban and his wife, Susan, of Englewood, N.J., and Chilmark, and Tamra Carboni and her husband, Michael, of New Orleans, La.; three grandchildren, Annalivia, Leo, and Sophie Balaban; and her sister, Phyllis Kopf of Boundbrook, N.J.
Her ashes will be interred at 5 p.m. Sunday, August 18, at Abel’s Hill Cemetery in Chilmark. There will be a nondenominational celebration of her life from 6 to 8 p.m. in the community space of the Chilmark Methodist Church at Menemsha Crossroad, the same road on which she and her family lived for so many summers. Friends are invited to come and share memories of Mae.
There will be another celebration held in New Jersey in mid-September. Details to follow. A scholarship fund has been established in her memory by the New Jersey International Dyslexia Association.