RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Adriana Blauvelt of Ridgewood figured 2003 would be a good year.
The Paterson native was 18 months into motherhood and had been promoted to office supervisor at William Paterson University that April.
But fate cared little for Blauvelt’s dream: Her husband, Bill Blauvelt, 35, died in a race-car accident in California that October.
The phones at his Clifton business, Ex-Terminator, were ringing off the hook and the newly-single mom had to figure out whether to unplug or answer them.
"I couldn’t disappoint the customers,” Blauvelt told Daily Voice.
“And then there were the employees. What was I going to do? Tell them we were going to close shop?”
Two weeks after her husband's death, Blauvelt put in for her New Jersey pesticide control licenses — all five of them.
She juggled mortgage payments with motherhood while figuring out what exactly it was her husband did and how to continue it.
“It was almost like I had this whole life I was living but I knew maybe one-third of it,” Blauvelt said.
“I just took it day-by-day.”
Blauvelt was never alone. The New Jersey Pest Management Association guided her. She bonded with other women in the industry at networking events.
Grieving the loss of her husband fell by the wayside for Blauvelt, who in 2006 began suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.
The trauma had become too much.
"I would tell people who are going through what I went through to take time to grieve," Blauvelt said. "Especially a loss like that — so big.
"And to not deter. To hang in there and be strong."
Blauvelt had a job to do. She took her own advice and muscled through it, finishing the work her husband had started.
“I enjoy it,” said Blauvelt of her job at Ex-Terminator. “All of the customers stayed and they all remember Bill."
She likened it to a family. One that she'd like to see grow, with more professionals of her own gender.
"I wouldn't mind creating a pest control group," Blauvelt said. "For women."