Mary Anne Zak, A Legendary Life-Long Learner

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Mary Anne Zak: a petite lady with a huge impact on this town, and in her personal way a huge impact on many individuals here. Mary Anne Zak: a woman of many roles. Mary Anne Zak: an example to all who knew her of dignity, intelligence, grace, humor, modesty. Mary Anne Zak: beloved.

Mary Anne Zak

Mary Anne moved to Suffield seven decades ago, to accept a position as a teacher of English at Suffield High School. There she met and married a fellow teacher, Emil Zak, and together they had four children. During a hiatus devoted to child rearing, Mary Anne finished an advanced degree and returned to teaching for 20 years. When did she become a teaching legend? Because legendary she certainly is–just look at the condolences online.

We see Mary Anne as wife, mother, teacher–but that’s not all. She was deeply involved in affairs of the town, including membership on the Democratic Town Committee for many years, service on committees in various organizations (she wrote the Observer Now and Then column for over 20 years!), and as one of those on the Library Commission responsible for the building of Kent Memorial Library, back in the time when the present Suffield Academy Library was the town’s own. She continued her involvement in the library for a lifetime, and never lost interest in its welfare. How fitting that the new wing is named for her.

Mary Anne is described by many as a pillar of the Sacred Heart Church community, irreplaceable. She wrote a column until recently in this very paper. As a writer she was articulate, straightforward, warm, and immensely readable. Needless to say, she was an avid reader. And Mary Anne was first and foremost, a life-long learner. She was curious about everything. She explored just about every idea that came before her eager eyes. In spite of all of these noteworthy attributes and successes, she had not one drop of arrogance in her veins, no high-falutin’ airs, no judgmental acidity.

Down to earth she was, and much more. Her sense of humor was sharp, but never hurtful; in fact, it was whimsical and endearing. She loved a good meal cooked by somebody else (she often said that she had a kitchen in order to house her microwave); she was the life of every party; she wore red and it became her. We often say that those who have left this life have left a gap; the gap Mary Anne is leaving is a chasm. Wife, mother, teacher, active citizen, church member, library aficionado, writer, friend; she has set a standard none of us can meet, but by which all of us can be inspired.

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