A principle witness and advocate for the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act (MAID), passed away on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. Ms. Postel, suffering from a recurring bout of cancer coupled with Mastocytosis, a little known and rarely diagnosed disease, availed herself of the legislation for which she fought so hard to have passed into law in New Jersey.
Ms. Postel’s advocacy for the MAID Act stemmed from the death, caused by cancer, of her only son, Edward Hoeger. She often quoted Eddy as saying, “I am not afraid of death, I am afraid of how I will die”. Having witnessed his suffering, Penny vowed to do what she could to ensure that other terminally ill individuals and families would not have to endure the same anguish.
Penny was born in New York, New York, to George Postel and Elsie (nee Walsky). The family later moved to NJ where Penny graduated from Collingswood High School. Upon graduation she became a licensed cosmetologist and was able to support her two children and continue her education after her divorce at age 23. By age 38, Penny had obtained her BA in English. She went on to become a teacher at Triton High School where she spent many years teaching AP English. She retired from Triton after 25 years with a close cadre of lifetime friends and many fond memories.
Her students were always her major concern and as an activist she fought many battles to protect their rights to a quality education. Penny was also dedicated to the cause of separation of Church and State and became a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU. The lawsuit was a success and the verdict returned more than $10 million dollars, that had previously been awarded to a male only sectarian institution, to the public school system.
A perfect summation of Penny’s tutelage is captured in this quote from one of her students, “What I admired most about Penny was her free spirit. She taught me that it was okay to be different, to march to the beat of my own drum, to go against the status quo, and to stick up for those who could not defend themselves.”
Penny attracted a diverse group of friends who were her family. She had an active social life: she was involved with the Riverside group for almost 40 years where she made lifelong friends; she was an avid reader and belonged to many book clubs; she continued her education, taking classes well into her late 70s; and she travelled the world with her friends and her children.
Penny was a true humanitarian and humanist, who fought her whole life for the equal treatment of all people and their rights to be true to themselves. Penny’s wit and wisdom always led to meaningful discussions and she created a safe haven for all who knew her.
Penny’s mark on this world is indelible and her spirit lives on in all of those that knew her.
Penny is predeceased by her son Edward Hoeger. She is survived by her daughter Ellyce Hoeger, her grandchildren Edward and Myles, and her great-grandchild Jeremiah.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the ACLU or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State or The Mast Cell Disease Society.