Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on September 23, 2007
Update: Notes from the celebration of Marie's life on October 3, 2007:
The photo on the left is a photo of some of the many photos of Marie's life and career as a teacher than were on display at the celebration of her life. I'll be adding some more photos from the display, as well as some photographs of some of the people who attended the celebration to the Central Alumni Flickr account.
Susan Brockett (Class of 1967) was unable to attend the celebration, but she did write something to be read on her behalf. I'm reproducing Susan's essay about Marie, since it certainly addresses the fond feelings she and many of her classmates had for a teacher who touched their lives in meaningful and unexpected ways:
Here I am, 43 years later, writing something because of Marie Garness. The former time is vivid for me.
Sophomore year. I wrote a piece on To Kill a Mockingbird, and I tried to do more than "enough", I tried to excel. Marie read it, perceived what I was trying to do, and told me I owed it to myself to work at my writing, but then she went a step further, as only she could have. She said that if a I wrote a journal, she would too, and we could compare. I was amazed and inspired – a teacher inviting me into the adult world, treating me as an adult, and expecting me to rise to the situation. I have no idea how many times I have told this story to people I have met, to give them an idea of what wonderful teachers I had, and Miss Garness was one of the best.
That was who Maudie Garness was for me – a teacher, but also a person – an adult who was willing to invite us, her students, into her world and treat us as adults. There are so many other memories:
- The times a bunch of us just stopped by her house on a Friday or Saturday evening…uninvited, just to say hi. And she invited us in, sat and talked, and treated us as she would any friends who stopped in.
- the play, where she was a central pivot of the whole team, teaching us the joy of creation, of teamwork and hard work, and the satisfaction of a job well done.
These are the pictures that come to min mind, as I try to share in your memorial, although I can't be there…
- Marie, standing in row 3, yelling "entrance stage right!", gesturing up at the stage in the old, dusty, brown auditorium.
- Marie on stage, playing jazz on her trumpet, with Mr. Schenk on the piano. Shocking us all that teachers could be so COOL.
- Marie laughing in her living room, at one of Sid Iwanter's routines.
…and Marie talking with us all a the reunion and picnic so recently, helping us retain a link to who we were 40 years ago, and maybe helping us see who we are now.
We must all acknowledge the pain she lived with and that caused her to decide that she had had enough,
But even more, we need to remember the life she lived, and the lives she touched.
– Susan Brockett (or as Maudie would say, Brocksy)