Author Topic: In Memory of Maryal (Deems)  (Read 12367 times)

BooksAdmin

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In Memory of Maryal (Deems)
« on: February 21, 2010, 07:06:41 PM »
In Loving Memory

Mary Alice Deems Howland ~ Associate Professor,  US Naval Academy
Maryal  (Deems) ~ SeniorLearn/SeniorNet Discussion Leader and Friend



As we extend condolences to  Maryal's family and many friends saddened by the sudden loss of  this bright light, we must also remember this:  Maryal was a  joyful person, with that famous dry, always playful sense of humor. Above all, she would want us to remember the good times, the happy times we shared over the years on SeniorLearn and SeniorNet. .

Let us gather together here to share our loss in this space, yes, but also to smile through our tears at fond memories of this extraordinary person and dear friend who spent the last ten years making us smile.

JoanP

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2010, 07:44:12 PM »
This has come as such a shock to everyone.  We need to console one another to get through this - especially Susan, Maryal's daughter and best friend.  We love you, Susan, and look forward to staying in touch with you in the future.  

Maryal, (also known here as "Deems")  led a discussion of Dicken's Mystery of Edwin Drood as recently as September.  You might remember that she thought she had a touch of the flu that was making its way through the Naval Academy.
 
Do you remember back in 1999-2000,  when she led her first discussion?  Maryal  volunteered for the role of innkeeper in our discussion of  Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, winning our hearts as she playfully  passed the grog to all who entered the discussion.  We didn't know at the time that she was an Associate Professor of Literature at the USNA.

Maryal went on to lead our Great Books Discussions for the next 9-10 years with her own special brand of leadership - humor.  My old partner, you will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.

jane

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2010, 08:11:16 PM »
Susan...

I have no words to tell you how sad I am to hear of your Mother's passing. She was such an enthusiastic, kind, gentle person.  She will be sorely missed by those of us who knew her through her witty, succinct, articulate posts.

jane

ALF43

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2010, 08:17:52 PM »
That is my funniest story of Maryal.  I expressed interest in reading along when Chaucer's Canterbury Tales was suggested.  I was relatively new to the site and Maryal somehow sensed my reluctance of making a damned fool of myself discussing a classic.  She wrote me personally and invited me, promising to protect me.  Ha!  ::)
 She told me she taught English in Maryland so I felt "hey, what the heck I come from a long line of teachers, I can hold my own."
  It wasn't until the end of the discussion, sharing grog and a "private" email nightly that someone told me she wasn't JUST a teacher, she was an English Lit. Professor teaching the plebes at our Naval academy.  I wrote her right away and scolded her.  Her humble answer--"Aw -whatever, it always seemed to intimidate people.  I'm just Mary."  

We discussed ex-husbands, our children, shared scriptures and spoke of her father's being a pastor as my son is.
We began many years of correspondance, sharing and caring.  She set me in my place when I needed it and she urged and cajoled me when I needed that, as well.  She was a good friend whom I loved dearly and will miss terribly.

I love you dear Susan and you are in my thoughts daily.
Maryal asked me to "worry" about you, and I do, we all do.

BEYOND THE DARKNESS, LIGHT...
BEYOND THE SORROW, PEACE.



Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.  ~James Russell Lowell

JoanK

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2010, 09:27:57 PM »
Maryal was such a spark in leading the great books, in our personal conversations. When I joined, she and JoanP were leading the great Books discussion. When they invited me to join them, I felt so honored. I will always remember the discussions we shared together. And especially a dinner where we made terrible jokes about dead poets (who else can you joke about TS Eliot with?) Her laugh lit up the place.
 
And again, before I moved to California, when she and JoanP gave a goodbye lunch for me. We may have drunk too much Sangria, but we had a glorious time. I still have the picture of her laughing with my sister and me.

She has left a hole in us that will not soon be filled. I didn't meet Susan, but I hope she will be a little consoled remembering how much her mother gave to so many people



Annie

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2010, 08:33:35 AM »
Susan,
My favorite memory of your dear mother is when she told us about her cataract surgery.  For a long time, she thought that her kitchen appliances were ivory colored and she liked them that way.  "Imagine," she said, "my surprise to walk into my kitchen and find that I had white appliances all that time!"
She did have a wonderful sense of humor along with her sweet smile and gentleness.  She will be missed
by all of us here on SeniorLearn.
You and your family will be in my prayers and good thoughts.  
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

Ella Gibbons

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2010, 10:14:52 AM »
Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.
- Dickinson

Susan, your Mother will be greatly missed in our book discussions.  Peace be with you!

joangrimes

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2010, 11:03:25 AM »
Dear Susan, I did have the pleasure of meeting you and your wonderful Mother at a Book Festival in Washington. DC.  The friendship and caring for each other that the the two of you had was obvious to me.  

I have lots of memories of Maryal from over the years that I knew her. one of them that I would like to share with you now the following one:
One of my favorite memories of Maryal will always be when she  gave resounding Roll Tide for my football team when they won the the BCS National Championship game. This was after Maryal was very ill and shows her indomitable spirit.  I have many other wonderful memories of her too in all the associations with her her and on SeniorNet.

Susan, you will always be in my thoughts and prayers and always feel that you can talk to me about your wonderful mother and friend.

Joan Grimes
Roll Tide ~ Winners of  BCS 2010 National Championship

marcie

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2010, 11:22:53 AM »
There is a huge hole in our book community with the  loss of our dear maryal. I know that we'll fill it with wonderful memories of this smart, witty, humble, straightforward and caring person. I had the pleasure of meeting her once but mostly knew her from her presence in our discussions here. She was a great discussion leader and participant. She was very generous, sharing her time and knowledge with us, even when she was busy preparing for classes or grading papers for the English courses she taught. I'll miss her expertise and the ease and grace with which she shared what she knew with us.

mabel1015j

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2010, 11:30:48 AM »
I always loved "Deems" thoughtful comments and humor in our discussions. So sorry she will no longer be here to educate and enlighten and "lighten" us up. My sympathies to her family. I'm sure you have wonderful memories of her...............jean

Jonathan

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2010, 01:25:21 PM »
DEEMS is gone. I'm sad and I'm sorry. Just reading her posts all these years endeared her to all of us. She must have been a wonderful teacher and a dear friend to all who were privileged to meet her and get to know her. I missed her the last while. I wanted to let her know that I enjoyed the book she recently recommended for discussion. Hail and farewell, great soul.

pedln

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2010, 05:44:12 PM »
Dear Susan,  I did not know your mother well, but always thought of her as a friend.  We first met at the 2002 Book Festival in DC.  Then later, when I was baby sitting the grandkids in Bethesda I invited those in the area to come for coffee, and was so pleased when your mother came – on her one free day, after I’d given her the wrong street and address.  Talk about perseverance.

I loved hearing about the antics of the Jack Russels, and about the little red car as it rolled along those sandy beaches.  Maryal gave some of us a really whing-ding of a ride.  It was at the SeniorNet 20th Anniversary and we were going from the hotel in Arlington to the Jaleo Restaurant in Arlington.  I don’t remember who all was in the car, but we had the best tour of DC and saw so many places never seen before.

There’s a book on my shelf – Break, Blow, Burn – about poetry and Maryal led a discussion of it one summer.  I never did get to participate, but read from the book every so often, and am always reminded of Maryal, and know she would have made that poetry sing.



mrssherlock

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2010, 05:57:20 PM »
No one could ever forget Deems for her wit and her warmth.  We will be lonely without her posts to look forward to.  She has touched our lives.  We were blessed to have her here.
Jackie
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

ginny

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2010, 06:37:11 PM »
It's unbelievable to me that Maryal is gone. She left so quickly, and left such a void behind.  You learn a lot about people discussing books with them.  She was such a combination of wit and kindness, generosity and true knowledge,  always blowing our socks off in this or that discussion. After some of us  had bloviated all over the place, she'd come in with her quiet statements that nobody else could have known and which changed entirely how we looked at books and a lot of other things.

What wonderful memories we have of her in the discussions, what fun she was in person.   How we laughed, I seem to remember laughing all thru The Ancient Mariner and especially Julius Caesar,  but we learned at the same time.  I think Susan's wonderful care of her mother speaks volumes about both of them. We  sure will miss her.

 My sincere  sympathy, Susan, in your great loss.

Gumtree

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2010, 09:58:53 AM »
How privileged I feel to have met Deems if only through cyber space.

In my first online discussion she endeared herself to me by making me feel welcome, perhaps even special, and by giving my first tentative contributions more than due attention. I loved her for her wit and humour, for her learning and the open, selfless way she shared her wealth of knowledge with any who wished to learn.

She was warm and generous and she was also such fun, a woman who found humour in the least likely things - like the fact that she and I were on opposites sides of the globe and as it happened, lived our lives 'exactly 12 hours apart'.
I can still hear her chortling over our quips on that score. I feel that I have lost a true and dear friend.
Reading is an art and the reader an artist. Holbrook Jackson

PatH

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2010, 10:31:51 AM »
Maryal, along with JoanP, was the first SeniorNetter I met in person, and I was lucky enough to meet her a few more times.  Her dry humor and tough-minded intellectual approach always made her fun to be with.

Her discussions were always a joy—so lively and full of ideas.  She told me once something of what she was trying to do in her classes.  I wish I could have taken one.  There is a generation of plebes who will enjoy life more because she taught them how to analyze what they read.

Susan, I’m glad to have met you, too.  Every time I saw you, the good comradeship and friendship and love between you and your mother just shone out.  It’s so hard to lose someone you love that much.  The wonderful care you gave her must have made her last illness easier for her to bear.  My prayers and thoughts are with you in the difficult healing process ahead.

Aliki

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2010, 12:03:59 PM »
I remember Deems from book discussions but not well as I was busy with Latin and Greek at the time.

First of all I want to offer my condolences to Susan. Dear Susan it is always difficult to be separated from a mother and we are never old enough to experience it and moms are just never old enough to leave us. I feel sure that you and your mother will always be in each others hearts. I will keep you in my very special thoughts.

And for all of you...friends of Maryal...I do offer my sincerest sympathy for your loss. I'm so glad the photo of the group was placed online so I could 'meet' Maryal and Susan and all of you.

aliki

GinnyAnn

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2010, 12:57:09 AM »
Susan ~ My deepest condolences go out to you. Loosing one's Mom is horrible, even if it is best for the departed Mom. I have been there.  Remember to be be gentle with yourself. Let yourself grieve.

JoanR

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2010, 03:53:25 PM »
Dear Susan - I only met your mother in person once - in 2002 I was in the car during our nighttime search for an elusive restaurant in DC.  Pedln was with us too.  Deems never got flustered during the seemingly endless drive in the dark but kept her good humor and entertained us in her usual warm way.  I followed her discussions online and learned much from her - her students at the academy have been so fortunate to have had her as their professor and will, I'm sure, long remember her.  I know I will.  She has left a deep and lasting impression on me and many others.  We miss her.

straudetwo

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2010, 06:16:58 PM »
We lost a beloved, irreplaceable friend whose participation made our gatherings unforgettable.
Maryal inspired confidence and admiration. She touched the lives of all she met- in person and on the net. As a teacher she was magical.

We knew of her fondness for the two Jack Russell terriers- one of them Susan's. Would that they are there now, keeping her company. My deepest sympathy to Susan in her grief.

gingerw

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2010, 10:39:17 PM »
Susan, please accept my deepest sympathy on the loss of you mother Maryal. I met you both at a book gathering where you both had your Jack Russels. You sat behind me.

Maryal was special to so many us included.

Ginger

hats

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2010, 08:05:19 AM »
Since Maryal didn't meet a stranger, I quickly felt a heartwarming welcome from her. I especially liked to read about her pup. I also liked to hear her talk about teaching, marking papers, etc. This is a shock. To all who knew or met her, especially family and friends, I offer my sympathy.

Singagain

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2010, 10:44:19 AM »
I haven't been keeping in touch with the SeniorLearn website much lately so I did not know Maryal at all, but reading the beautiful eulogies makes me wish I had had the opportunity.  Some of them brought tears to my eyes...Maryal sounds like someone one could really look up to and learn from.  It makes me want to be more involved with SeniorLearn (and I have seen some names that I used to be familiar with many years ago when SL was SeniorNet).

To Maryal's daughter, Susan, there is nothing I can say that will completely take away the feeling of loss, the hurt, the pain of the emptiness of missing someone...but I want you to know that even though I didn't know your mother (or you) I do feel for you, as someone who has gone before.  I know somewhat what's in store for you as I went through it in 1987...feeling lost, the unexpected crying jags, brief and unspecified moments of anger...but also fond memories and eventually peace and reconciliation... and in my case, forgiveness of self for missed opportunities to know her better and not being more attentive to that end.

You will be on my mind and in my heart as a fellow traveller who is embarking on a new journey...the journey of 'life without mother'...fare thee well.

Singagain

Phyll

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2010, 11:02:00 AM »
I am at a loss for words.  Maryal was such a unique person and meant so much to me and to all of us that came to know her so well in the old SeniorNet.  I first came to know her well on our imaginary journey through the "Canterbury Tales".  What a joy it was to travel with her.  Not only did she teach me but she made me laugh and enjoy every moment of learning....what better thing could I say of a teacher, and a friend, than that?  Go with God, Maryal.  I'll miss you.
phyllis

marcie

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2010, 11:58:52 AM »
We want to share some photos of the good times we had with Maryal. Please see http://www.seniorlearn.org/about/profiles/maryal_photos.html

Pat

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2010, 09:14:04 PM »
My sympathy and prayers go to Susan and Maryal's family.  It is still hard for me to realize she is gone.
At least Maryal is no longer suffering and in pain.

I remember best, The Canterbury Tales and the good times we had as we journeyed together.
And the discussion of Break, Blow, Burn, that Maryal led, was a real learning time for me.
Then the discussion of Wasteland by T.S. Eliot was a book I know I would never have understood if not for Maryal's guidance.
Then Don Quixote which started in April and was still going in August.  I'm sure the continued interest had a lot to do with Maryal's posts.

We will all miss Maryal's humor and great knowledge.
To Susan, losing your mother will probably be your worst loss in your life.  I pray for you.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2010, 04:50:36 PM »
I cannot believe it - Deems gone - well her candle still burns bright within our hearts and minds because of her many insights that moved our conversation along when she joined any of our discussions.

Memorable to me was the summer Deems used her vacation time to host a discussion of Break, Blow, Burn A book of forty-three poems from Shakespeare to Joni Mitchell accompanied by the author Paglia's short essays of commentary. Needless to say Deems was as able as Paglia helping us see aspects of each poem beyone the obvious.

Susan my thoughts are with you. I still remember the loss of my mother and now I am older than she when my mother died yet, often I think, I need to call Mom and tell her or Mom would have enjoyed seeing this. Her spirit never leaves and as painful as it may be just now I am wishing for  you the comfort of you mother's spirit through out your life. God Bless...


kidsal

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #27 on: March 05, 2010, 05:07:11 AM »




With sympathy, Sally

elizabeth84

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #28 on: March 05, 2010, 10:20:42 AM »
Goodbye Deems.  I enjoyed our time on the bookclub together.  Elizabeth

kiwilady

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2010, 03:14:27 AM »
So sorry to hear that Maryal has passed on. I just popped in to catch up with you all and read the In memoriam discussion title. It is a shock. She was such a knowledgeable lady and a nice person too.

Carolyn

Persian

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #30 on: March 23, 2010, 07:52:11 PM »
I, too, just learned about Maryal's passing when I read the title of this discussion.  Well I remember her wonderful dry sense of humor, encouraging remarks to me many years ago after I had retired from the University of Maryland's English Department and the wry sense we shared of her teaching cadets, while I was the mother of a Special Forces Army Chaplain.  As a former Maryland resident of more than 30 years, I was often in Annapolis.  Maryal asked me once if I waved to her when I was in the area.  I assured her that I did!  Just as I am doing now, but directing the wave in a different direction.

And to Maryal's family:  know that her love for you NEVER ends, the joy she brought to you will remain throughout your own lifetime.

Mahlia

JoanP

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #31 on: April 05, 2010, 04:54:30 PM »
We will take your thoughtful expressions of love  and  sympathy  to Maryal's Memorial Service at the Naval Academy next week and pass them on to Susan. Perhaps  the high esteem and happy memories we all shared with her mother will be of some comfort and hopefully bring a smile or two to her face as she reads them.

This isn't a goodbye. Maryal's spirit will live on in these book discussions.

JoanP

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Re: A Loving Tribute to our dear Friend, Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2010, 12:26:27 AM »
 There was a lovely Memorial Service for Maryal on April 14 at the US Naval Academy, where she taught the Midshipmen for 30 years.
A few days before the service, our Pat Westerdale printed  the posts from this Tribute/Remembrance page - along with the photos posted here and had them beautifully bound  to give to Maryal's daughter, Susan, following the service.  What a fantastic job you did, Pat!


The service was held at the  large, impressive chapel at the Naval Academy.  It was filled with hundreds of Easter lilies.  No one else had sent flowers for the occasion because of this.  I brought a single rose to give to Susan from SeniorLearn,  along with the bound tributes. The Midshipmen arrived shortly before the service in uniform.  Bruce thought it was early to be wearing them, but they were all wearing whites.  

In the weeks before she died, Maryal had contacted the Academy with the music and the readings she had selected for the service.  You should have seen the organ - and heard it!  I'll include the three hymns played during the service because Maryal had selected them.

Quote
Processional - Immortal Invisible God Only Wise."
Interlude - "How Great Though Art."
Recessional - "Eternal Father, Strong to Save."


There were three readings during the service - from William Faulker's Absalom, Absalom.  (I was moved at this - Maryal had participated in a discussion of this novel  with us in 1999.) - It begins:

Quote
"Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished.  Maybe happen is never once but like ripples maybe on water after the pebble sinks, the ripples moving on, spreading, the pool attached by a narrow umbilical water-cord to the next pool which the first pool feeds, has fed, did feed..."

The second was a reading from the Book of Job:

Quote
"I know that my Redeemer liveth...And though this body be destroyed, yet I shall see God."

And the third - William Faulkner again, from his address upon receiving the Nobel Prize:

Quote
"I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure..."


 The first speaker who remembered Mary Alice Deems was the delightful Jerilyn Watson who has been her friend since kindergarten.  Susan had asked her to be "funny"  in her comments.  Jerilyn was so frightened to do this in the large intimidating chapel, but she needn't have worried.
 Every memory was funny, yet sweet and gentle.  All who knew Maryal as an adult was able to recognize the playful nature and sense of humor so many have noted in the posts in the Tribute pages.  By the end of her comments, everyone was smiling at the antics of the sandbox set and their ringleader.


The next two speakers were co-workers and friends.  The  Professor Emerita of History at the Naval Academy and author, Molly Tinsley,  had commuted to work at the Naval Academy for years with Maryal.  Both were swimmers too - in the same pool in Bethesda, MD -  where our PatH swims.  She shared a number of  anecdotes and memories of the years they spent together at the Academy, always with respect for her "mentor."  

The third was a young Professor Allyson Beach, who spoke of  Maryal as a teacher.  She described how Maryal showed such interest to every word her students wrote.  She told us how Maryal would sit in a student desk along side the others in the class with her eyes closed so that she could give full attention to every word as  each student read his or her paper-   Doesn't that sound just like Maryal, the way she listened with respect and commented on every post in the discussions she was leading?  

Susan repeated several times how happy she was that we had come.  Her mother's friends at SenorLearn meant so much to her.  She examined each photo that Pat had included in the Tribute book and said she intended to carefully read every comment when she got home.

We will leave this discussion open for those who have not yet learned of Maryal's passing. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and memories of our dear friend and long-time Discussion Leader.

ALF43

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Re: In Memory of Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2010, 05:32:54 PM »
Thank you so much Joan for representing each of us here on SeniorLearn.  
Thank you, as well for telling us about the service.
It would have made Maryal proud.
Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.  ~James Russell Lowell

Phyll

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Re: In Memory of Maryal (Deems)
« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2010, 05:11:44 PM »
Thank you for coming here and describing the memorial service, Joan.  How beautiful it must have been and only fitting for Maryal.  She would have been so proud of all those young Midshipmen in dress whites gathering there to say "Bon Voyage" to her.  And thank you for representing us, Maryal's on line friends, so well.  I hope your/our gift to Susan brought her some comfort.
phyllis