December 17, 2012

Feature obituary: Mary Staszko, 54, active in church, Preble Street

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH – Mary Staszko, a longtime service representative for FairPoint Communications who was active in St. Bartholomew Church and volunteered at Preble Street for more than 12 years, died unexpectedly Sunday. She was 54.

click image to enlarge

Mary Staszko, right, and her daughter Anya

Family photo

PASSAGES

Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Mrs. Staszko, who had a lifelong heart condition, was remembered Monday as a positive, energetic and compassionate woman who devoted herself to her family and the community.

At St. Bartholomew Church, she was involved with the faith formation and youth ministries programs. She also served as coordinator for the church group that volunteers at Preble Street. Once a month, she helped to put on a meal there.

Elena Schmidt, director of development at Preble Street, said Mrs. Staszko played a key role in making the meal, serving about 400 people.

"One of the nice things about Mary was that ... she wanted to know what homelessness was all about and what we need to do as a community to solve it," Schmidt said. "She wanted to dig a little deeper and understand what the problems were."

Mrs. Staszko grew up in Orono and moved to Portland as a teenager. She graduated from Deering High School in 1976 and the University of Maine in 1980.

She then took a full-time position with what is now FairPoint Communications. She was a service representative when she retired in March of 2011.

She was married to Michael Staszko for 27 years. They lived in Cape Elizabeth and raised a daughter, Anya Staszko.

Her husband grew emotional Monday morning as he recalled the night they met and the years she stood by him and their daughter.

For many years, he has worked out of state for two weeks at a time. He commended his wife for the way she took care of everything while he was away.

"She played mother, father and doctor," he said. "When something didn't go right, she was home to deal with it by herself. She was extraordinary."

Mrs. Staszko was active with Cape Elizabeth athletic boosters clubs. This fall, she attended all of her daughter's volleyball games at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Mrs. Staszko was also active in a monthly women's book group.

"She really loved this community," her husband said.

He said his wife was born with a defective heart. She had major heart surgery 30 years ago, and saw a team of cardiologists on a regular basis. She died in her sleep early Sunday.

"She was remarkable for going the last 30 years with her heart being in the condition it was," her husband said. "Mary was one in a million, living with this condition. It never slowed her down. She lived life to its fullest."

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

 

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