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Mary (Gibney) Bodel

LAKEVILLE ­— Mary (Gibney) Bodel, 90, a longtime resident of Lakeville, died at Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Dec. 19, 2011. Her son, John, was with her at the end.She was born Dec. 5, 1921, in Baltimore, Md., the eldest child of Mary (Bartlett) and Robert Alexander Gibney. Raised in Easton, Md., and Pelham Manor, N.Y., she graduated from the Garrison Forest School in Maryland in 1939 and from Vassar College in 1943. After college she entered the graduate program in English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her M.A. degree in 1948. A passionate advocate for education, particularly of women, Mary taught high school English from 1945 to 1962, at first at the Baldwin School in Philadelphia, subsequently at the Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford, and, after meeting and marrying her husband, John Knox Bodel, a science teacher at The Hotchkiss School, in 1955, at Webutuck High School in Amenia. Eventually dissatisfied with the long hours of preparation and grading that teaching required, which left little time for her children, and yet reluctant to forego a life of active employment, she sought out an administrative position at her treasured alma mater, Vassar College, which she obtained in 1962 and where she was employed for nearly a quarter of a century, until her retirement in 1986. Working at first, from 1962 to 1969, in the Office of Admission, she moved in 1970 to the Office of Career Planning, where she found her natural home, serving as assistant director in 1970 and then as director from 1971 to 1986, advising Vassar seniors and alumni about identifying and embarking upon suitable post-graduate careers. (“Counseling is a fancy word for it,” she is quoted as saying in a Vassar Quarterly Profile written in 1975. “What we do is teach students techniques for finding a job.”)Both before and after her retirement in 1986 she enjoyed raising show dogs, mainly corgis, organizing and participating in alumni activities for Vassar, and traveling. An active member of the Mayflower Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club since its founding in 1977, she was awarded its Distinguished Service Award in 1992. In later years, she was an early and regular participant in adult education classes at the Taconic Learning Center, for which she recruited several volunteer instructors, and she became a proud member of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Connecticut.A lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends, Mary opposed violence of any kind and actively supported many movements for social justice and equality. In her own life she exemplified the qualities of simple generosity and universal kindness that lie at the heart of Quaker practices.She is survived by her son, John Putnam Bodel, of Pawtucket, R.I.; her daughter, Garrett Bodel Richardson, of Lakeville; a sister, Virginia Gibney Bacon, of Toronto, Canada; two grandchildren, Michael Putnam Bodel, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Anne LaFollette Bodel, of Asheville, N.C.; three step-grandchildren, Katherine Adams McKee, of Berkeley, Calif., Rowena McKee Mason, of Santa Paula, Calif., and David McKee, of Cambridge, Mass.; a great-granddaughter, September Iris Bodel, of Brooklyn; and two step-great-grandchildren, Samuel Mason, of Santa Paula and Anna McKee, of Berkeley, Calif.She was predeceased by her husband, John Knox Bodel, who died in 1986; her sister, Charlotte Gibney Patterson; her brother, Robert Alexander Gibney; and two stepdaughters, Phyllis Tuck Bodel and Martha Bodel Perrin.A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 11:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made either to the Geer Auxiliary, 99 South Canaan Road, North Canaan CT 06018, or to Third Haven Friends Meeting, 405 South Washington St., Easton, MD 21601. Arrangements are under the care of the Newkirk-Palmer Funeral Home in North Canaan.

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