2005 Lee Salk Goodworks Award Honoree
Vernell McCarroll Oliver
  • 90 years old
  • Date of birth: Jul 18, 1922
  • Place of birth:
    Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Date of passing: Oct 16, 2012
  • Place of passing:
    New York, New York, United States
“I loved my friend She went away from me There's nothing more to say The poem ends, Soft as it began- I loved my friend.” -Langston Hughes

Vernell Oliver, 90, born on July 18, 1922 passed away on October 16, 2012. We will remember her forever.

Verne McCarroll Oliver had dedicated her life to education, beginning with an undergraduate degree from New Jersey State University, completion of her doctoral studies at Columbia University and further work at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, the New School for Social Research, and Bank Street College.

Ms. Oliver spent more than a dozen years as a college instructor and an Assistant Professor at Morgan State College, Central State College of Ohio and Howard University, among others. Academic publications led to high school teaching, History Department Chair, and Chair of College Guidance, all topped off as Head of the New Lincoln School (now part of Trevor Day School).

Visit www.vernelloliver.com for more about our beloved Verne.

There are no words that seem adequate enough to say thank you to everyone who expressed their sympathy for the loss of our beloved Verne Oliver. She was a wonderful person and through the memories that she gave each of us, she will live on forever in out hearts.

- The Family of Vernell McCarroll Oliver

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Darrol McCarroll on 17th January 2018

"My dear aunt, thinking of you with much love."

This tribute was added by Carol Wood on 16th October 2017

"Mrs. Oliver was a born teacher. When she met my daughter, then of high school age, at a reunion she instantly engaged her in conversation about her goals and interests. I miss her and appreciate these reminders of her warmth and influence."

This tribute was added by Kelsey Lindsey on 2nd August 2016

"Thinking of you my dear on this hot summer evening, enjoying a cool vodka Gimlet,  reading the  Sunday New York Times. and listening to Chopin.   Enough Said!
Love Darrolyn"

This tribute was added by jessica montes on 18th July 2015

"Mrs. Oliver, My friend,mentor and Coworker. Everything I know, I learned from Mrs. Oliver. I worked with her putting libraries together for Catholic Schools around the city. Helping  people was her passion. She was a great human being. I miss you so much. I love you, Jessica"

This tribute was added by milton sipp on 18th July 2015


You will never be forgotten. Your light continues to shine in all of us for whom you mentored, shaped, and inspired. I love you, my friend. Rest in peace.

This tribute was added by Christopher Horton on 16th October 2014

"I live and work now in a "gateway city", and almost daily I meet and interact with immigrants from West Africa and their children.  It helps tremendously for connecting and building relationships that I know something of each of their countries, enough to be an informed and caring listener, and that for over 50 years I have been following their histories as they unfold. I  absolutely owe that connection to Mrs. Oliver, to the unit we did in her Core class on Africa, and the many other times she shared stories of her work and research in Africa. So thank you Verne, wherever you are."

This tribute was added by guendalina aloe on 6th August 2014

"riposa in pace Verne!"

This tribute was added by Jillian Lazaridis on 18th July 2014

""Verne, thank you for all you did for our children.  Everything in our school library reminds us of your dedication, generosity and love. We shall never forget you.  The students at Blessed Sacrament School are praying for you."

This tribute was added by Carol Wood on 18th July 2014

"Always glad to be reminded of Mrs. Oliver and how much we love and miss her."

This tribute was added by Jillian Lazaridis on 19th August 2013

"Our school library was non-existent until Verne came along.  Book by book, shelf by shelf, she helped us transform a dingy book room into a state-of-the-art library that is conducive to teaching and learning.  Verne, thank  you for your generosity of spirit, dedication and hard work.  We shall never forget you!  You will always be in our prayers."

This tribute was added by Stephen Lubell on 3rd November 2012

"A truly inspiring teacher and human being. We will all miss her spirit, wit and positive approach to life!"

This tribute was added by Danny Weiss on 30th October 2012

"Thank you to my principal, Verne Oliver, who took me under her wing and urged me to strive.  She was a great educator and mentor. She touched the lives of many and left her mark.  She will be missed. NLS '80."

This tribute was added by Miriam Miranda-Jurado on 27th October 2012

"Mrs. Oliver was an educator of educators.  She challenged the intellect, inspired the heart, and upheld the spirit even in the most challenging of times. Her grace and warmth were and remain an inspiration. May she rest in peace,  (NLS class of '67)."

This tribute was added by Jason Saris on 24th October 2012

"Verne touched us and tought us in a way that can only be be done by some one who loved us. I know we all loved her also."

This tribute was added by Jason Saris on 24th October 2012

"Verne connected with her students in a way that only someone with a heart full of love could. She was awesome in some many ways. We were so lucky to have had her as our educator, friend and to have had her in our lives."

This tribute was added by Grace Lucie on 23rd October 2012

"I was blessed to have worked with Verne at Holy Spirit School. She was a wonderful and caring person. She spent many hours in our little library fixing and organizing. I though that she was remarkable- that at the age of 85 - she was still working to help students to experience the wonderful world of books. May God's light shine upon you, dear Verne. You will be missed"

This tribute was added by Maureen Barry on 23rd October 2012

"The Headmaster, Trustees and entire Saint David's community mourn the passing of a dear friend and former Trustee, Verne Oliver.
Verne's tremendous support and dedication to the School for many years is truly appreciated.  Our prayers are with her family."

This tribute was added by Lynn Livingston on 22nd October 2012

"Bob and I attended Verne's memorial service today, sharing heartfelt memories of what a remarkable teacher she was.  Talking with many of our former New Lincoln students, we were struck by how many have pursued lives of service to others or in creative fields.  We both feel lucky to have worked with inspiring leaders like Verne Oliver and Arthur Swan, who made New Lincoln so special."

This tribute was added by Josephine Fanelli on 22nd October 2012

"Verne Oliver was a remarkable woman. I enjoyed our conversations, she captured my attention with her stories and her knowledge.  She transformed our empty storage room into a beautiful library, a room filled with mystery, adventure,and knowledge. The students and I are most grateful to her for this gift...she will always be remembered."

This tribute was added by Emily Kolker on 22nd October 2012

"Sorry I had to leave before saying goodbye to my friends and teachers from NLS.  I loved seeing you. It was a beautiful memorial service. We will all miss Mrs. O!"

This tribute was added by Tracey Bennett on 22nd October 2012

"I would like to one day be able to say that I too reached as many lives as Vernell Oliver. Her accomplishments are vast, and her love for education spread far and wide. I wish I had the chance to sit and speak with her. I will look up her books and learn more about her vision. It is educators like her that demonstrate that her talent was priceless."

This tribute was added by Annabelle Prager on 22nd October 2012

"As the founder of the InterSchool Orchestras of New York, I was stricken to hear the sad news about our wonderful former Board member, Verne.  Only short notice keeps me from being with you today to extend sympathy to her family and share  memories with all those who loved and respected her.  Her understanding of the needs of children and their schools was unparalleled."

This tribute was added by Richard Feldman on 22nd October 2012

"She was an inspired teacher and person.  She continues to inspire me in my work."

This tribute was added by Nancy Lambert on 22nd October 2012

"She was my teacher, guidance counselor, and mentor. But most of all she was an inspiration. You always wanted to do your best for her because she cared so much. That lesson, to be the best that you could be, has followed me forever. Her loss is a loss to all who were touched by her. Nancy Lambert (NLS '64)."

This tribute was added by Waddy Thompson on 22nd October 2012

"The Board and Staff of InterSchool Orchestras of New York sends their sincere condolences on the loss of Verne Oliver, former Board member and wonderful supporter of education for New York City's children."

This tribute was added by Kate Blacklock on 22nd October 2012

"The fact that I can so clearly hear her voice today, see her smile, remember the way she made me feel cared about, while at the same time slightly scared of, 40 years later is testament to the huge impression she made on my life. She was both the Guide of my education and the caring mother of a dear friend lost way too soon.
NLS '75 Kakie"

This tribute was added by Dorothy Valla on 22nd October 2012

"All of us at Corpus Christi School in Manhattan are grateful to Verne Oliver for renewing our school library. Her wisdom and thoughtfulness will be long remembered. We shall miss our good friend very much!"

This tribute was added by WILLIAM SAGER on 22nd October 2012

"Verne-  You were patient and caring. You listened when others didnt during a special time in my life at New Lincoln. You helped give me the confidence I needed in High School and prepared me for college. You are already missed and will be missed in my heart forever. Thank you!"

This tribute was added by Rich Meller on 22nd October 2012

"Thank you so much for your love of children and your vision that reading will open all of the doors to their future. God  Bless You!
All of our gratitude from St. Helena School."

This tribute was added by Kathy Riecks on 22nd October 2012

"Verne was such an inspiration to me!  She had so much energy and traveled to so many places to sit and transform libraries from dusty rooms with books to places of adventure and beauty!  I will always remember her!"

This tribute was added by Maggie Seligman on 22nd October 2012

"Verne made an immeasurable difference in this world.  You can't ask for more from anyone--to leave the world changed because of his/her presence.  This is what is meant by the word "indelible." Her devotion to others, powerful intellect, huge heart, and inspirational presence are models for us all.  I hope she always felt our love come back to her as she gave hers freely to us. (NLS'68)"

This tribute was added by Robert Heckmann on 22nd October 2012

"I have been blessed to know Verne in my life.  She was a mentor to me in developing St. Ray's H.S. for Boys library.  It is better today because of her input and advice in making us a 21st C library.  She is a LaSallian Awardee and will be remembered in our FAMILY prayers.  She will be missed and we are thankful for her generosity to our school."

This tribute was added by David Bloomfield on 22nd October 2012

"I will miss my friend, mentor, and colleague."

This tribute was added by rocco martz on 22nd October 2012

""Verne Oliver has given the gift of reading to so many children
by opening school libraries,her passion for reading and helping
children will be missed. I remember many conversatiions that will
stay with me forever she was truly a champion.""

This tribute was added by Dan Starer on 21st October 2012

"Verne was a strong influence on my life.  She was one of my most inspiring teachers, introduced me to the college I attended, and hired me as a teacher at NLS after my graduation.  Verne brought out the best in people. She set high standards and motivated all around her to aspire to those standards.  We will all miss her.  NLS '73"

This tribute was added by Rebecca Eddy on 21st October 2012

"Verne Oliver was the continuity of New Lincoln long after New Lincoln ceased to exist.  She cared about each of us and kept in touch.  As the class of '69 worked to put together a 40th class reunion, Mrs. Oliver contributed her knowledge of our classmates, where they were and how to contact them.  We could always count on her to be present at reunions.  She will be missed."

This tribute was added by Bernice Belth on 21st October 2012

"I am from the class of '61. We were lucky enough to have Verne, "Mrs. Oliver" for both 10th and 12th grades. Since then I have gone on to do extensive graduate and post graduate studies and Verne remains the most dynamic, talented, the quintessential teacher in my experience. All others are measured, and fall short of her talent for infusing excitement into our learning."

This tribute was added by Amy Bowllan on 21st October 2012

"An interview with Verne at School Library Journal. NOT SLOWING DOWN.  http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6464288.html"

This tribute was added by Julie Liss on 21st October 2012

"I have such clear memories of Mrs. Oliver:  her laugh, her penetrating look with glasses perched on her nose. She set an example of intelligence, strength and compassion and let us know that it was possible to embody all of those qualities together. As an educator, I often think of what a gift it was to go to New Lincoln. I hope her family knows how much she meant to us. Julie L. NLS 1974"

This tribute was added by Carol Wood on 21st October 2012

"Verne was an inspiration to all of us. Her life has been a shining example of love in action. Thanks to her family for including her students in this page and letting us feel part of her extended family, and to everyone for sharing precious memories and gorgeous photos. I'm sure we will all be there in spirit at her Memorial on October 22.
Carol Gordon Wood, NLS 63"

This tribute was added by Moira Boyd on 21st October 2012

"I was wee when Verne enthralled me with Black elegance. Smart she was, trendy she was, confident she was, and busy, she was. She was, for this wee one, something to steal glances at and take note of. I never knew her but having such grandeur to gaze upon, for wee ones, wee Black ones, was serendipitously valuable to a life. Moira Boyd NLS"

This tribute was added by Miranda Hentoff on 20th October 2012

"I always looked forward to getting 'sent to the principal's office'.  Verne would make cinnamon toast as we talked about what brought me to her warm, sun-drenched office overlooking the park. NLS was home to me, and Verne was like a mother. She personified integrity, elegance, self-respect and excellence. But what I'll always remember most was her infinite kindness. She affected so many."

This tribute was added by David Oppenheimer on 20th October 2012

"Verne was an inspiring teacher for so many of us, and so many of her former students were inspired by her to, in turn, become teachers.  David Oppenheimer -- NLS '68"

This tribute was added by Jerome Castle on 20th October 2012

"Verne Oliver, a dear friend of many decades will be sorely missed.
She always sparkled like a diamond in a pail of rhinestones.
Jerome Lawrence Castle"

This tribute was added by Joseph Levenstein on 20th October 2012

"Verne was my teacher in my senior year at New Lincoln (66-67).  I have always been inspired by her wisdom and her humanity.  Her memory will always be a blessing to all of us who knew her."

This tribute was added by Edward Rocklin on 20th October 2012

"Verne Oliver was a magnificent teacher and a magnificent human being, and she profoundly influenced my life, including serving as an inspiration when I became a teacher myself. A photograph of Verne is the last thing I see when I leave my office to go to class, and the first thing students see when they come to visit. It will remain a blessing to have known her. Edward Rocklin, NLS 1966"

This tribute was added by Maria Rodriguez on 20th October 2012

"Part 3
Mrs Oliver really was our Gramms, (Cynthia, Darius and Phyllis).
She was a true angel in disguise with her cane marching through Harlem, USA.
You'll be dearly missed by many.
I already do."

This tribute was added by Maria Rodriguez on 20th October 2012

"Part 2
She cared for us, our children and our community.
I am honored to have had her in my life. Even now can can still hear her voice."There's no such thing as can't." or "Your head is more than a hat rack!" I can go on and on."

This tribute was added by Maria Rodriguez on 20th October 2012

"My Mrs O.
She's seen it all, from the Time of Depression, The Civil Movement, to our 1st Black President. She made us see through her eyes that things weren't as tough when we didn't believe.
She gave me a job. She made me read books. Yes, made! She was NOT having it, plus there was no way she'd let you out of it. She put me in school. Who on earth does that?! She did and was proud for it."

This tribute was added by Lofton Moore on 20th October 2012

"We the Board of The Barnard School Foundation are very saddened to learn of our colleague's passing.  Verne was an active and dedicated Board member with a wealth of knowledge and experience in private schools, and that she shared to everyone's benefit.  We will truly miss her.

Lofton Moore, Secretary, The Barnard School Foundation"

This tribute was added by Kelsey Lindsey on 20th October 2012

"I was so sorry when I heard that she was ill, and now with her passing, we are losing a wonderful person. All of her achievement will keep her alive.

Léa C. Hammond-Sampson"

This tribute was added by Alan Herman on 20th October 2012

"Part2//..the last time around Thanksgiving last year, then this year, I sadly stopped hearing back. And albeit she long ago insisted that it was time to start calling her Verne--rather than Mrs. Oliver,and I did-- it really never felt quite right. What a giant she was, in this world and gave so much, and I am greatly saddened to learn, that she is no longer with us.  My condolences to all."

This tribute was added by Alan Herman on 20th October 2012

"I was her decidedly high on the list of the decidedly less than overly  academic students, in Vern's, NLS the class of 1962, but we had wonderful dialogs, she was tolerant of my more "creative" bent, and  I enormous respect for her, and of what she gave to me. It was a thrill to keep in touch with her, now and then for the past  50yrs-- face to face, here and there, and by e-mail;"

This tribute was added by Janelly Mares on 19th October 2012

"Ms.Oliver was one of a kind,she was a great human being. A devoted person in everything she did. I thank god for putting her in my life. I'm deeply sad over this lost and she's now in heaven smiling down. You will forever be miss.Thank you for helping in all the ways you did..May you rest in peace."

This tribute was added by Jane (Lambert) Peck on 19th October 2012

"Grace, kindness, strength and beauty. What a gift to have had her in our lives at our coming of age. She showed us how it was done! NLS '67 Jane Lambert Peck"

This tribute was added by milton sipp on 19th October 2012

"We have lost a legend in our field. But her work, her passion, and her dedication to us and to young people all over will live on in all of us.  She mentored and inspired so many of us and is one of the reasons that we became educators.  Verne, thanks for all you did and for how you lived your life.  We love you and will never forget you. Peace, my friend!"

This tribute was added by JoAnn Magdoff on 19th October 2012

"Verne was a wonderfully nuanced educator. She was an interested and informed teacher who cared about each of her students. I know I have always held her in a special place, as a model of who I try to be when I teach and supervise. And I remember her support and warmth towards me during the turbulent times of late adolescence."

This tribute was added by Emily Kolker on 19th October 2012

"Verne was the mentor, guidance, leader and spiritual force that made New Lincoln the best school ever.  Her smile and physical presence filled the room.  She somehow knew each of her students and their families so well. She gave generously to education and to all who knew her, setting her students on their life paths. I will always think of her as one of the biggest influences on me."

This tribute was added by michael jody on 19th October 2012

"Verne was an amazing human being.  She was an outstanding teacher and administrator.  She was warm, funny, smart, supportive, and I think made most of not all of us at NLS feel special.  When I was in New Lincoln, we used to call her The Big O, which was a tribute to how outsized her influence was on us.  She will be sorely missed.  Goodbye Verne."

This tribute was added by Barbara Buloff on 19th October 2012

"I am  about 40 years older than Mrs. Oliver was when she came to NLS for the first time as our 10 th grade teacher in 1958
In her  30's she was as powerfully strong and influential in her marvelous abilities as a visionary and teacher as she continued to be until her death. She will always remain in my psyche/soul as a beacon of light RIP Mrs.O."

This tribute was added by Jim Hawley on 19th October 2012

"For three years Verne (Oliver) was not my primary teacher but a teacher in an often co-taught class: 10th, 11th and 12th grades. I clearly remember were as someone who for me between the ages of 15+ and 17+ was a 'found of wisdom': thoughtful, reflective, inspired (in a low key yet most compelling manner), someone who influenced you.

This tribute was added by Wendy Bellows on 19th October 2012

"Verne was the principal at New Lincoln school, an incredible school that I attended from 4-12 grades. She knew every one of us. She was an amazing, wonderful, dedicated educator/woman who impacted so many lives. A piece of her is now a part of each of us who knew her. How many people in the world can say THAT about their principal, eh?! (Thank you, Kelsey Lindsey, for this site.)"

This tribute was added by Marci McCall on 18th October 2012

"Thank you Madam Oliver for your support, wisdom  and guidance. You we're our fearless leader, always there for a laugh or advice.  I thank you for all you did for me at New Lincoln school. 81' R.I.P Verne Oliver.
Marci M '81"

This tribute was added by Lucy Geldzahler on 18th October 2012

"I will miss Verne Oliver.  She left a legacyof state of the art school  libraries for parocial school students. She instilled a love of reading,a desire to seek the best that education could offer,and even. trainied parents to work in her libraries. She was a most genrous and gentle

This tribute was added by Chris Horton on 18th October 2012

"I'm so sorry that I missed "Mrs. Oliver" - her health failed just before our 50th class reunion where she had been expected.  I owe to her a lifelong awareness of and interest in Africa.  No doubt we all owe her for the many little contributions to our character and consciousness that she left us with.  Surely she lives on through those."

This tribute was added by Drew DeWindt on 18th October 2012

"Mrs. Oliver will definitely be missed! She helped make me believe in myself and know that I could accomplish anything that I put my mind to! Her strength gave me strength to grow and learn and be trhe best I could be and do all I could to help others as she helped me! She will be forever missed!
New Lincoln - 1972 - 1976"

This tribute was added by Walter Sondheim on 18th October 2012

"Mrs Oliver, as all of her students' remember her by, was first and foremost an exceptional teacher. Her impact on all who were taught by her at NLS is a memory that I am sure, is still impacting our lives today.
NLS - 64"

This tribute was added by Steph Bader on 18th October 2012

"Mrs. Oliver was an extraordinary teacher and a strong, dynamic, beautiful woman. I carry her influence with me and think of her regularly and with great fondness almost 50 years beyond our formal relationship. I will miss her."

This tribute was added by sharon goldman on 18th October 2012

"Verne was one of the warmest, most positive people I have ever met. I will never forget how kindly she embraced me when I returned to New Lincoln. And I remember the law class she cotaught my senior year!"

This tribute was added by Bill Kilpatrick on 18th October 2012

"Mrs. Oliver told me a slightly risque joke once - which I won't repeat - that made me blush.  I think she laughed louder than i did.  She was a big, beautiful, strong and intelligent woman and one of the best teachers I ever had.  Thank you very much for all you've given me and many, many others - NLS - '66 - Bill"

This tribute was added by JoOnna Silberman on 18th October 2012


I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me
as good belongs to you.

-Walt Whitman"

This tribute was added by Tony Gittelson on 17th October 2012

"During an extraordinary moment of transition in our own lives, and in the life of this country, "Mrs. Oliver" (as I will always remember her) was a quiet inspiration. An inspired educator and a truly elegant woman. I am always so amazed by the lives that were made better by Verne and NLS. After a long, well-lived life, I hope she does not rest, but spreads her grace across the universe..."

This tribute was added by Dee Winton-Brenner on 17th October 2012

"Though I was only at New Lincoln for one year, I remember Verne Oliver among all others. She was THAT teacher - the one you chose when someone asked you about your favorite, the teacher you remember..."

This tribute was added by Peter Rosset on 17th October 2012

"Verne had an enormous impact on me as a person.  I can't thank her enough for everything she generously taught me.  Verne, may you rest in peace."

This tribute was added by Jonathan Leff on 17th October 2012

"Verne was one of those rare individuals so dedicated to helping others pursue their dreams. She guided me in ways I still do not fully appreciate. She guided me to my specific college which started a long and fulfilling career. She had a huge impact in my life and so many others. I will miss her greatly."

This tribute was added by Michael Mitchell on 17th October 2012

"Thank you for helping to make me more than I could ever have been otherwise. I will always treasure the memories of my days at New Lincoln, and of all you did to try and keep me on the proper path, both in my 11 years as a student and the time that I spent working there.. May you rest in peace."

This tribute was added by Steve Goldstein on 17th October 2012

"Verne was a guide who listened well and set me on a course through high school and then off to college to fulfill my aspirations. She had faith in me that let me have the self-assurance I needed. I am forever grateful to her. I know I am one many lives she made happier, healthier and more fulfilling. She will stay in my heart where she has been all these years. NLS '74 Steve G"

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