42 / matters magazine / fall 2018 W hen life takes an i n c o n - ceivable t u r n , r e c o v - ery and healing seem out of reach. For Felice Ecker and her son, Hank Ramaikas, grieving the loss of her husband, Joe Ramaikas, is both private and public. Now, two years later, she and her fam- ily are settling into a new place in life. From a literal standpoint, that place is a newly renovated home that she shares with Hank and her mother, Karen Ecker. This is Felice and Hank’s third home in Maplewood and their fifth home in New Jersey. She and Joe moved to Maplewood in 2006 from Jersey City, having fallen in love with a 1928 colonial on DeHart Road at the entrance to Orchard Park. There they hosted the Orchard Park Happy Hour & Social Club for friends and neighbors most Fridays of every sum- mer for almost a decade. It was a short walk to Joe’s new business: the Cedar Ridge Café & Bakery, which he originally opened as the Cupcake Corral. A self-taught baker with no restaurant experience, Joe, with the help of friends and fam- ily, turned a former pizzeria on Ridge- wood Road into a community main- stay. Feeling the burden of their grow- ing property taxes, Felice and Joe chose to sell their home in the early summer of 2016, planning to close as soon as they returned from a family vacation on Maui – their fourth trip there. Then disaster struck: While snorkeling on their last day, Joe suf- fered a fatal heart attack. Devastated, Felice and Hank re- turned home to their lives without Joe. She recalls, “I barely have any memories of the three months after Joe died. I just went on auto-pilot. Inconceivable Maplewood family heals with community BY ELLEN DONKER Joe at his creation: The Cupcake Corral