Credits

Remembering Marcia Luce, a co-worker and a friend


“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of Marcia Luce’s death on Friday, November 1. Marcia, who was at work in the Library just a week before her passing, will be deeply missed. She was on the library staff for over 30 years in several different capacities, most recently running the Technical Services Department. We will miss her kindness and friendship, her baking skills and creative book displays, in addition to her many other professional contributions to the library.” Kate Tranquada, Library Director

“When thinking of Marcia I remember her Sunday afternoon Reference desk duties. It seemed she had patrons come up to her who were really more like friends. They chatted and laughed and talked books. Marcia always knew what the person liked, what was new, what she’d already ordered for him, what he would definitely like… even ” Oh, you’ve already read everything by her-you have to wait awhile for the next one! Read something else in the meantime!” She loved her books and everyone else who loved them too!” Jan Zwicker

“I will miss Marcia’s “hi Doreen” greeting, when I saw her at reference or when visiting the circ desk. I will miss her clever book displays sprinkled around the library, and our chats about displays. So knowledgeable, about many topics, and always interesting to talk to. She was incredibly brave, fighting illness for years, without a complaint. Marcia was one of the bravest women I have ever met. Marcia will be missed so very much, but never forgotten.” Doreen Buchinski

“My favorite Marcia story is about how she organized the whole library staff to make me a quilt as a wedding gift! There were a couple of staff members with some sewing experience and I think they all thought Marcia’s plan was a bit too ambitious, but that didn’t stop Marcia! She gave out assignments. The staff with sewing experience coached the novices along. The group managed to stitch and assemble the whole thing in the library, right under my nose, and I never caught wind of it. The end result was a gorgeous and unbelievably touching memento that I display proudly on my den wall.” Deb Fasulo

“I remember doing a last minute museum pass reservation for Marcia so that she could go to the Children’s Museum with her great-grandson. She loved spending time with him.” Lisa Aucoin

” Marcia and I worked together many Saturdays through the years. We always had plenty to talk about because we were both animal lovers. I loved to hear tales of her gineau pigs, birds and other small animals. Shortly after being hired at the library, I got a kitten from a friend of a co-worker. Some years later, Marcia got a kitten from the same family. From then on, we always joked that we were related by “cat”. I’ll always remember Marcia as my Cat Cousin.” Marialice Wade

“There’s an empty spot in the Library’s heart,
we lost a friend today.
A friend and co-worker who wore many hats.
She had a zest for life we all wish we had.
There wasn’t much she couldn’t or wouldn’t do.
It’s going to take more than two feet to fill her shoes.
Rest easy Marcia, memory of you will resound from
Non-fiction to Tech Services and at all the desks in between.
Sometimes when people met Marcia for the first time, she would come across as a bit scary.
Marcia was like the old school librarians I remember from my youth, she was tall and had a commanding way about her but once you got to know her, Marcia’s sweet soft center came shining through.
Marcia was very crafty! She was always learning how to do new things, and sharing that knowledge with others.
Wonderful creations (low calorie of course) came from her kitchen and she enjoyed sharing them with her colleagues.
Marcia was very creative and you could see evidence of that in most every corner of the library. I can still see her standing down in the reference room doorway looking towards the front door to see how the “new” table under the skylight looked.
She would sit at the Main Circ desk to see if the sign over her latest display in the main lobby was hanging straight. Her treasure trove of seasonal decorations are often on display in many nooks and crannies throughout the library.
It is going to be a long time before I don’t imagine Marcia coming around the corner or walking up the aisle pushing a squeaky book cart in front of her.
Miss you Marcia, I know I’ll often wonder what would Marcia do? or think, I bet Marcia would like this! In fact just today I saw a recipe and thought it should go in your recipe box …Fond memories always, Jeanette” Jeanette Curnyn

“One of my favorite things about Marcia is that when she asked or suggested that you do something, I always got the impression that there was no choice, it was more of a demand, and I’m not just talking about when she had a computer or printer problem that I had to fix.
On my first day at the library, she asked where I lived. When I told her that I lived in Jamaica Plain, she asked what route I took to get here. She obviously wasn’t happy with my response, because she gave me turn by turn directions, making sure that I wrote every turn down. I hate to admit it, but she was right. I still take the same route everyday!
Marcia also suggested that I take out a book entitled The Art of Fermentation. For weeks, I ignored this request, and for weeks, she kept on telling me that I need to take it out. And, again, she was right. My fermentation lab (aka my dining room) now stinks of fermenting kimchi and hot sauce.
Even when she brought snacks or a delicious cake for the staff, whenever she told me it was there, I felt like I had no choice, but I had to stop what I was doing and go eat some of it immediately, and that is one request that I never complained about since her baking skills were extraordinary.” Todd Strauss

“I don’t know how many people remember this, but Marcia used to head the party committee & we had many delicious luncheons. One year we had a luncheon every month pertaining to a different country. The one I remember most was the Japanese luncheon. I do not remember what we ate but I remember dealing with chop sticks for the first time. We always had a lovely tea every Spring, too. None of it would have happened without Marcia’s enthusiasm & cooking skills. And let’s not forget her gourmet birthday cakes! She will be missed.” Virginia Waldron

“Marcia was the ‘Julia Child of the library’! Making birthday cakes for coworkers celebrating a birthday that month was an example. Lemon, coconut, chocolate, strawberry shortcake with homemade biscuits, I can’t say which was my favorite. Marcia even set aside some for the evening staff. Then there was the day the smell of fresh baked cookies permeated the library. Following the delicious smell, there was Marcia baking cookies for the staff in the staff kitchen.
But, Marcia was so much more. She was a friend and colleague.
She was an expert at making library displays, at recommending books, and her gardening techniques. Her travelogues of her trips brought us to those places through photos and descriptions. I loved sharing stories of our grandchildren and her precious great grandson.
Marcia was a huge presence in the library and she will be sorely missed.
Rest in Peace, Marcia. Bake, read and make them smile in Heaven.” Gerry Chiasson

“Whenever I think of Marcia, I think of food. She was often cooking, baking,or bringing in treats from her favorite bakery. When I met Marcia my first week of working here, her words of introduction were, “I’m putting together a collection of staff recipes for the staff Christmas party. Can you give me a recipe?” I promised a recipe for devilled eggs, and the next day she asked me for the recipe. I said that I would give it to her later. The day after that, she asked for the recipe. I again said that I would give it to her later. The day after that, I was in technical services and she asked for the recipe. I mentioned that I still didn’t have it. She immediately ushered me over to a desk, gave me a pen and an index card, and said that I was not allowed to leave the technical services section until I wrote out my recipe for devilled eggs. That’s when I realized that this was a lady who took everything related to food seriously!
As others have already mentioned, Marcia made birthday cakes every month in honor of those who were celebrating a birthday. I happen to be one of several people at the library whose birthday is in July. One of the years she told me that she was worried that I was getting left out of the July birthday cake choice, and asked me to let her know my favorite flavor so that I would definitely enjoy the cake. I, who could probably compete with Marcia for biggest sweet tooth among our staff, said that I enjoyed most flavors of cake, but she was insistent and sure enough there was a birthday cake made with me in mind.
When Marcia wasn’t baking, she would frequent some terrific bakeries, bringing in the treats for our monthly library department head meetings. Before I was a library department head, she always made sure to stop by the reference desk with lemon squares for me. When I became head of reference and attended the meetings, Marcia always made sure to buy extra lemon squares just for me. I was so touched that I didn’t have the heart to tell her I don’t like lemon squares!
I’ll always be grateful to Marcia for her great sense of humor, the kindness she showed others, even under a gruff exterior and for teaching me that Belgian Chocolate is much better than Swiss Chocolate. Wherever she is, I hope that she is enjoying a much deserved large box of Godiva!” Laura Bernheim

“I have so many great memories of Marcia: Getting me hooked on her British authors and hearing her say ‘I have the new Katie FForde’; Coming into work and finding the latest knitting book in my drawer, put there by Marcia simply because she knew my love of knitting; Listening to her describe a recipe for a special cake and then having it appear in the staff break room the following week. It was because of Marcia that when the staff kitchen was redone we got a stove where before it was just a stove top! Marcia could do just about anything including gathering a group of co- workers (the majority of whom did not sew) and creating a beautiful quilt for a co- worker’s bridal shower. And finally, I always knew that if I asked Marcia what she thought…she’d tell me. She was honest, forthright and had a heart of solid gold.
‘Loss leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal’—Irish Wisdom” Maureen McEneaney

“Everywhere I look I see reminders of Marcia. Her displays, the Thanksgiving Teddy Bears that are much loved by our little patrons. Her jacket on the back of the chair in Tech Services. The pile of books at her computer. She’s making sure we won’t forget her, as if we ever could. Much love my dear friend.” Marjorie Hartman

“The last few times I have been in the library, the door to Tech. Services was open. It makes me so sad to see Marcia’s empty chair. Some of my most enjoyable days at WPL were spent in the chair next to her while I processed CDs. Coming from the happy chaos of the Children’s Room, Marcia’s room was a peaceful place with her classical music playing softly in the background.
When I first met Marcia, I was intimidated by her sometimes gruff manner, but it didn’t take me long to realize that beneath that was a real gentleness. We shared many wonderful days both inside work and out. Her passion for so many things was inspiring…her family, books, music, food, flowers, museums, her church, her fabulous displays and so much more. Seeing her do battle with her disease with that same passion was also truly inspiring!
During some of the saddest and most difficult times in my life she was always there with a sympathetic ear and her no nonsense advice. ‘Just eat pasta and good quality chocolate and everything will be OK.’ :-)
I will truly miss her presence and I hope that she’s somewhere reading a good mystery, baking cakes for a heavenly choir, and eating pasta, chocolate and chicken pie.
Farewell my dear friend, Sharyn” Sharyn McGann

“I will remember Marcia most for her kindness, that deep recognition that we are all in this together doing the best we can. She was deeply touched when someone did something special just for her. When I brought in a lemon cake for her, she shared it with staff and the following week she made a special stop on the way back from her treatment to buy the lemon cookies that I love.
Tech Services will never be the same. I will miss the coming and going of staff members who stop in to say hi, ask a question or just to chat with her about a common interest. And there will be the absence of someone yelling at the printer to STOP! when it prints more than she asked for.
Color me blue.” Pat Arsenault

“I have been working with Marcia for a good many years I most remember her thoughtfulness in driving me to and from the hospital and doctor’s appointments when I broke both arms about four years ago I keep expecting to see her returning from trips.” Patty Chaisson

“Marcia’s unexpected passing has left me struggling to sort through the flood of memories from our thirty years working together. I was the new Library Director when Father Bill suggested
I interview Marcia for a part-time position in the Children’s Department. I was impressed but worried that she was overqualified. I also thought she came on a little strong (truth to tell I’d never met anyone quite like her) and wondered if she’d long be happy here. I can still hear Father Bill insisting the job would be a perfect fit: “Trust me. If you hire her, you won’t regret it.” Father Bill, remembering my hesitancy, took delight in Marcia’s promotions and growing string of accomplishments. He’d wait for just the right moment to teasingly ask, “how’s that Luce woman working out!”
Marcia was extremely intelligent, highly educated and ridiculously well read. She never received a graduate degree in Library Science but was one of the finest librarians I’ve ever met. She proved to be terrific children’s librarian and because of her outgoing personality and research skills was soon filling in at the adult reference desk. She also knew movies and music (especially opera) and was invaluable helping grow the library’s fast expanding audio-visual collection.
Marcia soon moved up to full time library assistant, but where could her special blend of talents best flourish. When the longtime head of Technical Services retired I had my answer. Marcia was up to the challenge but worried I’d take away some of her other responsibilities. No, I promised, as long as she got the Tech Services work done and besides “when have you ever failed to persuade me to let you do something.” Disarmed, Marcia accepted. I never needed asking, “how’s running Tech Services working out for you”.
Marcia’s creativity, generosity and kindness to others, fierce loyalty to her staff, and love of cooking, baking and celebrating birthdays and special occasions are lovingly shared in other
blog posts. One strength that continues to amaze me was Marcia’s intense appetite for work. Her department went from ordering and processing a few thousand items a year in the 1980’s to up to twenty thousand after the library expansion. She accomplished this with almost no increase in staffing and with the help of a fabulous, small group of volunteers, many of whom she recruited herself.
Marcia’s mounting workload only motivated her to ask for more projects. Working a part-time second job in Concord and overtime most Sundays in Waltham wasn’t enough. She took over selecting most fiction and pushed to increase her areas in non-fiction beyond cookbooks. Need extra copies of some new books immediately? Let me stop by New England Mobile on my way to the library. And of course Marcia’s bountiful displays and booklists were a delight. I’m not sure how she wound up in charge, but when I suggested she might want to cut back and not push herself hard she gave me that withering “don’t even think about” look and, to prove me
wrong, sped up the pace. She was so fast sometimes I’d first learn of an author’s death when I saw his books on one of her display tables.
When I announced my retirement Marcia was far from enthusiastic. I think she saw my leaving as a minor act of disloyalty. To her everyone who worked and volunteered at the library was
family, and everyone who used the library and loved books good friends. Marcia’s life and happiness was too intertwined with the life at the library to ever permit a peaceful separation.
I’m not surprised that she fought her illness with the same determination she brought to every cause. That is one of the few battles I’ve ever seen her lose.
I know I was a better boss for having hired her and am a better person for having known her.
May she rest in peace, a rest she never sought but so richly deserves.” Tom Jewell, former Library Director

“I was fortunate to know Marcia for 11 wonderful years as a coworker at the Waltham Public Library. As mutual animal lovers, Marcia and I often shared stories about our four-footed friends. She knew the names of each and every dog and horse that graced my life during those years, and shared the joyful times as well as the times of grief when they passed away. She knew their names because she took the time to learn the details of each person’s life that she touched, including mine. She genuinely listened with her whole heart, and her responses came from the good, honest place in her soul. Unique and funny as those responses could sometimes be, they were always, truly Marcia to the core-and we loved her for them. Marcia, I will dearly miss you, your wonderful sense of humor, your courage, your irrepressible love of life, friends, and family, your kind and compassionate nature, and, of course, your heavenly baked goods!” Nancy Dent

2 Comments »

  1. Comment by Bob "Scott" MacStravic
    November 11, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

    After the sadness of Marcia’s passing, the chance to read this blog, then attend her funeral and interment has added a beautiful and fitting end to her life, as well as to meet some of those who knew her for a long time, but were unknown to me. As her “Irish Twin” (we were born only 10 months and 28 days apart), I have a longer perspective on her life, though also a narrower one, since I’ve lived all over the U.S. while she remained in the Boston area forever.

    She first served as my translator when I was mastering baby talk while she could speak adult stuff, though I was never sure whether her translations were accurate or not. We were competitive and often contentious in our youths. We enjoyed a similar taste in books, so whenever I visited her in Waltham, she was sure to add to my reading list some new authors or books by familiar ones. She and I were fierce competitors in the realm of trivial knowledge, splitting wins vs. losses when we competed, and invariably winning when we were on the same team. I pity anyone else who had to go up against her.

    When I left for college, I took the opportunity to change my name to “Scott” which I have used ever since, though Marcia, naturally, kept to “Bob”. This seemed a bit arbitrary, since after she learned of my name change, she began calling herself “Scotty”, and during the years before she married, if we were both at home and got a phone call for “Scotty”, it was necessary to check further as to which of us was the intended recipient. Since I thought of the name first, I naturally felt I deserved to be its sole bearer, but Marcia didn’t think much of that argument. Fortunately, she gave up on this brief attempt at re-labeling, and I have been able to enjoy mine ever since.

    Marcia was a major influence in my life. She was the one who told me, after I was discharged from a three-year stint in the Army, that Harvard offered a degree program for adults in the evenings that I should attend. I owe much of my subsequent education, including a Master’s and Doctoral degree, as well as twenty years of teaching graduate students about health management, to her advice. During the two years I spent there getting my Bachelor’s degree, Marcia often invited me over for dinner so she could try out exotic dishes that she knew Charlie wouldn’t like. There I would get to hold her daughter Valerie on my knee, prompting me to think about getting married, myself, which I did just a few months after graduation.

    By the way, despite a legend that has persisted for over 50 years, Marcia did NOT drive across the Mystic River five times on the same trip north. She only crossed three times and it was the Eliott Bridge! As a driver, she had more strange adventures than anyone else I know, however. She would brook neither criticism nor advice, however, by anyone riding with her. I have always suspected that at least one of the reasons she spent her entire life in the Boston area was that she was unwilling to start from scratch in some other place learning her way around.

    Though the past year has been tough for those of us who loved her, as her health declined, it was at least mitigated by the fact that she was able to do a number of “bucket list” things during the year. And I was proud to be included on the list when she flew out here for a visit to Friday Harbor, a locale I had never visited myself until she came. She had previously joined us on a delightful trip to Ireland where a great time was had by all, and had made a number of visits out here to the Pacific Northwest, enjoying a taste of Victoria. BC, the Olympic National Park and Alaska, for example, with my wife and myself.

    Many thanks to all of you who made her life as joyful as I know it was. And thanks as well to all who took the time to attend her funeral and interment. She will be missed, but her life was certainly worth living and celebrating.

  2. Comment by Laura Bernheim
    November 12, 2013 @ 10:26 am

    Thank-you so much for your kind words about our blog and the great memories of your sister. I forwarded your comment to the whole staff so that they can read more about Marcia. Sympathies to you and your family for your loss.
    Laura Bernheim
    Head Reference Librarian
    Waltham Public Library

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