A Life is a House of Many Windows

In Loving Memory of My Dear Friend


A Life is a house with many windows and so it was with Mary Viramontes.  Many of  us here peered through some of those windows with Mary’s help.  There were openings for family, for friends, for loves, fellow workers and those touched by her words or kindness.  Mary was a multi-faceted jewel.  There was so much to see, so much to know. This is but a snapshot in the one I came to know.

I first met Mary when she came to work for me at the Staff Development Center for the School District.  By that time Mary had been retired for a short time.  Now after having known her I can understand that she couldn’t just stay at home. She had boundless energy, a strong will and a kindness one sensed as soon as they met her.

At first Mary was an unknown but I soon learned that she was a tireless colleague and so totally reliable.  Mary’s word was her bond and she never missed a deadline or failed to take care of the total operation.  She met all the visitors with that bright smile of hers and counseled her co-workers to be strong, to do their best. She was indispensable, irreplaceable.

When I left the Staff Development Center, Mary remained to make sure everything ran as it should. That job finally ended but we kept in touch. 

Mary volunteered to help transcribe a series of magazine articles that evolved into a website archive of over 500 episodes (www.gus-stories.org).  We transcribed from copy that at times was almost illegible but Mary carried on through all the obstacles.  It remains a testament to her to this day with over 30,000 grateful visitors.

That project completed, Mary couldn’t sit idle and came back to the Adult School to help in the English As a Second Language Department.  Once again she helped out and only left when her kidney failure made her too weak to continue.

We kept in touch after that, discussing the challenges of her dialysis treatment, and the ups and downs of daily life.  Mary never gave up no matter what the obstacle.  Her doctor’s were surprised when her kidneys began functioning once more and the dialysis was stopped. I think it was because of her inner strength, her resolve and her inherent goodness. Mary had such a rich life and touched so many of us.  She was especially proud of Rosemary and David, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. She referred to them as her “Little Angels.” How she looked forward to their calls and visits.

Even at the end of her days, she would point to their pictures on the wall of her bedroom and there would be that warm smile once again.

I  have known many people in my life. Mary was special. She was soft as velvet on the

outside but that velvet covered the strength of steel for all she cared about. She truly had a heart of gold.

I was honored to have known her, to call her my friend, and to have been permitted to see through but a few of the windows. 

Farewell my dear friend,


Mike Hammerberg


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