Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Mid-Atlantic Region

Mary LaMarca by midatlanticcce
August 14, 2009, 11:11 pm
Filed under: General Announcement, Washington DC

Sad news on the passing of Mary LaMarca:

Beth Curren sent the note below to Tom Scullen, President of the Greater Washington Ceili Club, for those who may remember Mary LaMarca from the early days of GWCC and the Washington Irish and Folk Festivals.

Dear Tom,

I’ve forwarded this to you because it is about a life worth noting:  Mary LaMarca was a founding member and, I believe, the first secretary of the Greater Washington Ceili Club.  Mary and her husband, George Stephens, worked tirelessly at setting up and running both the Washington Irish Festival and the Washington Folk Festival.  Mary was also a regular stage manager and dispatch coordinator for the National Folk Festival until she had to retire because of her decreased mobility.  Until 2008, when things just got too tough, she and George performed at the Washington Folk Festival as part of singer/songwriter workshops.   She was a researcher in a biology lab at NIH.  Over the years she invited many children to participate in Bring a Child to Work Day; Meredith was the lucky participant two years ago.  Mary was an avid bird-watcher and fascinated by reptiles.  We went together to MARS (not the planet, silly:  the Mid-Atlantic Reptile Show) each year in Timmonium, MD.   Thanks to Mary, I am the proud and frightened foster parent of a Leopard Gecko, and Bearded Dragon and a Tarantula (which we named ‘LaMarca’ in her honor). She was a remarkable friend and a wonderful supporter of both the GWCC and the FSGW.  Below is a letter we received from George. who is the shyest person on the planet.  It says a lot about their relationship that he is able to write so movingly about her.


From George Stephens:

Dear Friends,

This afternoon, August 10, my beloved singing partner, life partner and wife, Mary LaMarca died after a five year battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. I believe she died peacefully, at home with her parents, me and her favorite cat around her. Monarch butterflies have been coming to the milkweed she planted for them by the front door, and from which she harvested many of their eggs to nurture to butterfly-hood and release. I had an almost palpable sense of her spirit breaking free from its chrysalis, spreading its wings and joining them on their mysterious journey to a far distant and unknown home.

Mary taught me how to both observe and participate in life; nature, music, friends, plastic pink flamingos – eh, no, scratch that last. Truly, she made possible the full and rewarding life we’ve had, and we will be ten times less by one for her leaving. Please forward this news on to any one who would want to know.

Love to all,

George Stephens


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