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KURUCZ, Dr. Mary Anne

July 23, 1942 – Wayne, Alberta
April 15, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta

Mary Kurucz of Calgary, AB, passed away on Tuesday, April 15, 2019 at the age of 76 years.

Mary was born in the now ghost town of Wayne, Alberta. Her family moved to the immigrant district of Victoria in Calgary in 1948 where Mary began her schooling at Victoria School. It was there her career path was set. From the very beginning she had an affinity for learning and for teachers. She attributed her determination to succeed to her first teacher whom she described as having “a tremendous love for children and a need to assist disadvantaged kids.” After graduating from Western Canada, Mary completed her Teaching Certificate in Education in 1968, and began her thirty plus year teaching career with Calgary Separate School District. She enrolled in night classes while teaching full time to earn a Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary in 1969.  Summers, and a sabbatical leave were spent at the University of Saskatchewan and in 1977 she received a Masters degree in Education. In 1988, Mary received a Doctorate Degree in Education from Boston University.  Mary was modest about her teaching career and academic accomplishments. She was very proud of having been part of a “shift’, from illiteracy to literacy” in one generation. She was particularly proud of being the daughter of a bright, hardworking immigrant who was “illiterate in three languages.” Above everything, Mary was an educator.  She taught in elementary schools, high schools and universities and as a reading clinician for Calgary Separate School District. In addition to her teaching Mary also served in several offices for the Calgary Separate local of the Alberta Teachers Association. There she took great pleasure in developing programs for the professional development of teachers. She also served as the president of the Calgary chapter of the International Reading Association. In 1993 Mary left the classroom to provide support, and professional development for Alberta teachers in her position of staff officer for the provincial Alberta Teachers Association.  Mary was a firm believer in the value of a strong public education system and advocated for such long after she retired in 2003. As a writer Mary demonstrated impressive knowledge of English usage, of precise diction and a colourful turn of phrase. Writers of term papers, masters’ thesis and doctoral dissertations came to Mary for assistance which she gladly provided. After her retirement from the Alberta Teachers Association in 2003 she actively participated both as a participant and an instructor at the Alexandria Writers’ Centre in Calgary. Mary’s knowledge of language and reading was legendary as was her sense of humour. Mary loved to tell stories and to listen to stories. She always highlighted the ironies and funny moments in life. Everyone who knew Mary knew that when Mary laughed, the room shook. Mary is survived by sister Helen Bennett, brother Bill, sisters-in-law, Joan Farquhar and Margaret Kurucz; as well as numerous nieces and nephews; and grandnieces and grandnephews. Mary was predeceased by her older brother Frank in 1997.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Spirit Catholic Church (10827 – 24th Street S.W., Calgary, AB) on Friday, April 26, 2019 at 11:00 am. Reception to follow in the church hall. Graveside Service to follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery. Condolences may be forwarded through In lieu of flowers donations can be made to one of Mary’s special charities, Calgary Alphahouse Society or Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary. In living memory of Dr. Mary Anne Kurucz, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Joanne Blasetti

    Oh, I am so sorry to hear this sad news! I worked with Mary at Student Services for The Calgary Catholic School Board.

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  2. So sorry to hear this news. I was in a book club with Mary and really enjoyed her wit and knowledge. She will be missed.

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  3. I am very saddened to hear that Mary has passed away. I always looked forward to seeing her every Tuesday and Thursday when she got together with her friends for coffee and a chat at the bakery. She had an answer to any question and always seemed to know a solution to a problem. She has not been at the bakery for the visits for a while now…..and she has been missed. may she rest in peace My deepest sympathy to her family

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  4. Elida & Malfor

    We are so saddened to hear of Mary’s passing. We knew Mary through her brother Bill, a dear friend of ours from the time he worked in Albania. We still amaze at the hospitality Mary showed us at her home in Edmonton and the warmth and affection she gave us immediately, as if she had known us all her life. We shall always remember the intellectual talks with her and her great sense of humor. Heartfelt sympathies to the family. May her sole rest in peace and beautiful memories of hers in our hearts!

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  5. Julie, Rick and family

    We have many wonderful Auntie Mary memories that we will cherish even more now, and are thankful for the time we had with her. Love and prayers.

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  6. Greg Michalenko

    I met Mary when she was on her sabbatical at the University of Saskatchewan. We had an enjoyable summer in a good circle of friends with lots of parties. I especially remember the Hungarian bacon roast where we were shown how to score big hunks of fatty bacon, expertly roast the surface until it was sizzling, then slice the roasted bits onto a bun, and chase it with lots of beer and laughter. Mary was a dedicated practitioner of the pedagogical arts, a scholar, and supporter of public education. She has left a legacy. Adieu, my friend, and God bless.

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  7. My deepest condolences to Mary’s family. I knew Mary through the Alexandra Writers Centre. We worked closely together for several years when she served on the board of directors. She was a long time active member and will never be forgotten.

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  8. I worked with Mary in Member Services for the ATA. She was always such a great friend and Rudy and I remember well the many trips we were fortunate enough to take with Mary and Mary and Susan. Condolences to all of you and may you continue to cherish memories of all Mary was to so many others as well. Her sense of humor, patience and teaching wherever she was is such a tribute to her as a great and caring teacher.

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  9. Mary was an encouraging leader of our Friday FreeFall and a gifted writer as well. She is sorely missed. My condolences to her family.

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  10. Carmel Smetschka

    I got to know Mary through book club. We joined the same evening in 2003. I treasured our monthly get-togethers until 2017 when Mary could no longer attend. Mary brought such knowledge, insight and conviction to the group, as I’m sure she did in all aspects of her life.

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  11. Susan Kennedy Sullivan

    Mary Kennedy was a dear friend of Mary K’s. I am her daughter, Susan Kennedy-Sullivan. I have fond memories of Mary at meals with our family and parties. She was a wonderful contributor to education in Calgary. Her laughter will forever be seared in my memory. Love her!

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  12. I met Mary at FreeFall. She was so warm and welcoming. She was one of the reasons that I kept coming back every Friday. Her “Mama” stories were amazing. As soon as Mary mentioned “Mama” I always knew that we were in for a special piece of her writing.

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  13. Terry MacKenzie

    My condolences to Mary’s family and friends.
    She and I met in the 70s through the professional organization, the International Reading Association, first at a conference in Vancouver. She was one of my ‘mentors and connectors’, helping me to be linked to my first work in Alberta: of course, with Mary involved, my initial interview was in a Houston shopping mall during an international conference! Though eventually in different school systems Calgary, we connected through the Calgary and District IRA Council, other professional work, ATA, and shared friends. Mary was a great early friend of Ken and I as we settled into Calgary. She and he both filled rooms for hours with their distinctive laughter; that is never to be forgotten. What fun! Such a fine introduction to Calgary in the 70s and 80s. A favourite memory of this witty and word-wise scholarly woman comes from our shared early intro to a new technology: the microwave oven. We both bought the same first model and went together to the Bay’s Cooking School for new MW users. Sitting by Mary, then a doctoral candidate studying at Boston U, we followed the instructor’s tips and recipes using this revolutionary way of cooking. But, after multiple repetitions of the phrase, ‘cover with vented wrap’, Mary’s hand went up and to my surprise she asked where one could buy this ‘vented wrap’! I gasped and then dissolved into giggles as she was told to poke a fork into her Saran wrap! And, of course, unself-conscious as ever, Mary told this joke about herself, or let me do it, for some time after. And she went on to get her doctorate in language and learning, also knowing this new fangled term: ‘vented wrap’! Love you, Mary.

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  14. Ms. Handan Erkmen

    My husband, Ugur, and I, Handan, met Mary through Jim and Cheryl Lemire. Mary was the Lemire’s dear friend, and thus we met her. She was a good soul, brilliant and witty, she will be missed.
    We share your sorrow. Our condolences to Mary’s family and friends.

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  15. Betty Knapp (Gough)

    I knew Mary from about Grade 4 at Victoria school through to Western Canada High School. I remember her red hair and laughter. I have thought about her throughout the years and am proud to have known her in school.

    Condolences to the family.

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  16. I am saddened to learn that Mary has passed away. I have many fond memories of dinners (her fabulous cabbage rolls) at her house where she regaled her guests with her incredible sense of humor. Mary could find the amusing and absurd side of so many things. Classes at UofC, meetings with the Calgary & District Reading Council, conference events, discussions about her Masters thesis and doctoral dissertation and so on are among my recollections of good times in her company. Condolences to her family.

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  17. I was deeply sadden to learn of Mary’s passing. I have fond memories of many good times with Mary and the Kurucz family. Mary was a major inspiration to me in the early 1970s when I was making a career decision to become an educator. As a young teacher I valued her wise counsel and mentor ship. I always enjoyed Mary’s clever sense of humour, positive outlook and genuine willingness to share insights and advice.
    My sincere condolences to the Kurucz family.

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  18. Bill, Joan, Helen, Margaret and the family

    Saddened to receive the news of Mary’s passing.

    Along with many others, I had such an opportunity to share time, telling stories, making tasty drinks, and learning how to make and eat Hungarian food. Memories of Mary will live through the echoes of her laughter and fine humour.
    Rest well, Mary

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  19. I will miss Mary’s yearly autumn trips to Boston/New Hampshire and the many laughs we shared together. I first met Mary in Calgary in the 70s while vacationing in the Rockies. She welcomed me into her home, where we enjoyed listening to Nana Mouskouri records and drinking wine. That was the beginning of a life-long friendship. We were able to reciprocate her hospitality when she attended Boston University for her doctorate. She became an extended member of the Jewell Family over the years and was a welcomed participant in family events. Mary acquired many friends in the Boston area, spending vacations with my family and other close friends. Mary always cheered up a room with her laughter and wit. And she always won at Trivial Pursuit. She loved to exchange phone calls with us on Canada Day and Fourth of July, which we always looked forward to. We will miss exchanging calendars at Christmas: mine from Boston and hers from Calgary.

    She will be sorely missed and we will always cherish the wonderful memories of her many visits to us and our trips to Calgary.

    Sincerest and deepest condolences to Bill, Joan, family and friends.

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  20. Patricia (Patti) Martin-Kingsep

    I initially met Mary in Grade 7 at Victoria School. She was my Home Economics(Nutrition) partner. I remember us making Cabbage Rolls. We lost touch until we met at Renfrew Pool in 2010. We rekindled our friendship with having coffee and lunch. I invited her to join my Book Club. What a brilliant mind with clever wit and humour that she shared with everyone.
    Good By Mary…rest in peace.
    Heartfelt sympathy to The Kurucz Family
    Patricia kingsep (Martin)

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  21. I am sorry to hear that Mary has passed from this life. We were friends through the Alexandra Writers Centre and I always valued her hilarity and excellent writing whenever we shared a class. I am grateful to have known her.

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  22. Dorothy Voytechek

    I knew Mary through friends. Her work as a Reading Clinician for Calgary Catholic was legendary, and she left her mark. May she rest in peace.

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  23. Lila Mydlarski

    While growing up in Victoria Park, attending Victoria School, Haultain and finally Western Canada High School , our highly qualified and caring teachers most likely influenced so many of us in the neighborhood to enter the field of Education. What a beautiful tribute to Mary and all her accomplishments. My sincere condolences to Helen, Bill and family.

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