Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mary Geraldine Sekul, 1948-2008

A week ago, I was not expecting to write about Mary Sekul at all, ever, and especially not in this forum. Then again, a week ago, Mary Sekul was not expecting to be written about, and certainly not in the places and ways she's been written about in the past few days.

"An artist, poet, scholar, friend, sister, and mother"

People like Mary Sekul have very few Google entries and when their names appear in the newspapers, it's often suddenly and sadly. I barely knew Mary Sekul; I'd met her once or twice when she did an act of kindness for me. I knew she was an artist and art teacher, that she was a hard worker. I didn't know that the kind act she did for me was replicated many times a week for many people who came in contact with Mary Sekul.

On Wednesday, March 13, the Sacramento Bee said, "Sekul was being remembered by her family and friends as a gifted artist who connected deeply with the nearly 1,000 students she taught on a weekly basis at three area elementary schools."

"She was a wonderful person," her daughter, Claire Sekul, told the Bee. "She was kind to everybody and good-hearted. We are devastated. She helped other people before she would help herself."

The principal of one of the schools where Mary Sekul worked said, "Even with those students who only saw her 40 minutes a week, she was able to make a connection. They remember every little thing about her."

Mary Sekul was of a class increasingly rare here: a native Sacramentan. She graduated from Saint Francis High School in 1966, and later from College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, and Sacramento State University. But she was only a generation or so removed from Croatia (on her father's side) and Ireland (on her mother's side).

Her obituarist said of her, "Mary had many and varied friends in the community, the Bay Area, Ireland and France. She was a jack of all trades and might be found adding a closet to her house, adjusting the aperture of an old camera, or reading Yeats. Mary was a caring and intelligent woman, greatly loved by her students, family, and friends."

As I said, I barely knew her; so why do I write today about Mary Sekul? Because it's Women's History Month. Because we always wait too late to write about women like Mary Sekul, who make our history day by day. Because she deserves a Google entry as much as, maybe more than, anybody. Because the harsh history of the women of Dalmatia, Eire, and America culminate in the goodness of Mary Sekul. Because I'm glad she got to go to Ireland last summer.
Because nobody should ever say, "Who's Mary Sekul?"

History is really the personal stories of the uncelebrated living the goodness of their unheralded lives, making impressions that subtly, but irreversibly, move the sands of time. That's why I write about Mary Sekul.


Kathryn Doyle said...

Beautifully said, Craig. May her memory be eternal.

footnoteMaven said...


What a wonderful tribute.

I hope you have encouraged us all to post living tributes.


Anonymous said...

Is it just me or is there a teacher sub-theme to this carnival? With good reason too, since so many teachers have touched so many lives. Thanks to you, Ms. Sekul is still making an impact on others.