Mary Homza, 90, of Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — Mary Lourdes Wiedl Homza passed into eternal life June 4, 2022. The only child of Anna Keating Wiedl and Louis M. Wiedl, she was born Sept. 25, 1931, in Danbury, Conn.
Mary often described growing up during the Great Depression; her mother ran a private kindergarten in their home (known as Hill House School) and sold cosmetics door to door, and her father, who once owned a prosperous metal manufacturing company, maintained a number of jobs to keep the family afloat. During World War II, Louis, a World War I veteran in the U.S. Army’s Service of Supply, served as an air-raid warden, supervising blackout drills and monitoring neighborhood homes to make sure no light escaped.
Mary grew up in a family engaged with liberal democratic ideas, where — in addition to bridge games and winter tobogganing parties — her parents regularly hosted political discussions.
A lifelong practicing Roman Catholic with roots in both Irish and German traditions, Mary attended St. Peter’s Grammar School, graduated from Danbury High School, and attended Western Connecticut State College (then called Danbury State Teachers’ College). Interested in international events, Mary traveled by steamship to Europe as an early participant in The Experiment in International Living. She lived with a host family in Germany and visited several other countries in post-WWII Europe. In college, she was a member of an intercollegiate model U.N. program; she attended regular meetings in Hartford, where she met her eventual husband, L. Ronald Homza, a student at nearby Fairfield University.
These experiences, along with a brief stint teaching at the United Nations International School in New York City, contributed to her enduring interest in domestic politics and international relations. Mary was a proud liberal who read the New York Times every day and devoured every political book on the Times’ Best Sellers list. While working toward her Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Boston College, Mary interned with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in Boston and edited their newsletter.
Returning to Connecticut, Mary completed a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies at Fairfield University and pursued a career in school psychology. After a year as a social worker at Catholic Family Services in Bridgeport, she returned to Danbury as its first public school psychologist. She also volunteered as a psychologist at the Kennedy Center for Special Needs in Bridgeport the year that program was initiated.
Mary married her best friend and the love of her life, Ron, in 1958. After several years in Bridgeport, they moved their growing family to a large colonial home on Broad Street in Stratford, fondly known as “908,” where many meaningful and enduring neighborhood friendships flourished. However, Mary’s greatest joy was her family. Her approach to raising five active children included sandboxes, tree forts, swings, birthday parties, daily summer beach trips, and annual camping trips across New England and eastern Canada. She taught her children and Ron to swim and to ski, attended all her children’s sporting events, and hosted many backyard pool parties for all ages. The in-law apartment at 908 was truly intergenerational, providing a home first for Mary’s mother and then Ron’s, Elizabeth “Betty” Zowadney Homza.
The kitchen table at 908 served as both the location of nightly family dinners and the center of political and moral debates and informal counseling sessions among her children and their legions of friends. Inspired by Mary’s experience living with a German family, the Homzas also hosted several international students from all parts of the world, including Colombia, Norway, the U.K. and Japan, which expanded the family’s exposure to various cultures and languages and inspired her children’s interest in travel.
Mary was a daily communicant at St. James Church, where she enjoyed moments of peace and quiet. She was also an active volunteer. In addition to teaching CCD at St. James, where her children attended elementary school, she was a member of Saint Vincent’s Auxiliary and a volunteer in the social services area, a founding member of St. Joseph Manor’s Auxiliary, a volunteer in the Alzheimer’s program at the Baldwin Center, Vice President of the Stratford Visiting Nurse Association, and a Hospice Volunteer. In her later years, she noted that the task she’d enjoyed most was serving as a Eucharistic Minister to the homebound, where she made many friends among the elderly and was inspired by their patience and faith.
After her own children were launched, Mary returned to her profession and worked as the school psychologist in the Derby, Conn., public school system until she retired in 1998. She loved her new colleagues and being part of the evolution of the special education field. She particularly enjoyed the collaboration involved in identifying students with special needs and the careful construction of Individual Education Plans.
She also relished the opportunity to travel during these years; in addition to visiting her children in the far-flung states of Alaska, Idaho, Missouri, and Puerto Rico, she and Ron took several trips to Europe. Their favorite destination was the island of St. Maarten, which they returned to many times.
Mary and Ron eventually moved to Ron’s adored log cabin in Goshen, Conn., which Ron architecturally designed and son Mike helped build. Mary and Ron built strong friendships in the Woodridge Lake community. The cabin was the venue for many family gatherings that now included Mary’s eight grandchildren, each of whom was a source of special joy to her. She delighted in contributing to and following their development as they grew into young adults, each with unique characters, skills, and talents.
Following the death of her loving husband of 55 years in 2013, Mary moved to the warm and welcoming community of EastView in Middlebury, Vt. She joined St. Mary’s parish, and while she was not able to attend Mass in person due to mobility issues, she enjoyed visits from parish volunteers and the pastor. She continued to follow her adored Boston Red Sox on TV, keep abreast of all political news, and take great pleasure in beating whoever dared challenge her in games of Scrabble. At EastView she participated in many community activities, such as book groups and political lectures. A dedicated Democrat, her last activist work was to write postcards reminding Georgia voters to participate in the January 2021 runoff elections. She was especially fond of her weekly writing group, which she attended via Zoom until recently.
Mary’s last eight years were enriched and enhanced by the dedicated caregivers at EastView, with whom she developed strong friendships. She was proud of working with other residents to establish an annual gift fund for EastView’s hourly workers, who provided such tender and loving attention to their residents. Mary’s family is forever indebted to these caregivers for their compassion and kindness.
Mary is survived by the children and grandchildren she so loved: Joseph and Eileen Homza of Stratford, and children Meredith Lapoint and husband Jason of Dover, N.H., Joseph Jr. of Madrid, Spain, and Jack of Black Rock, Conn.; Anne Homza of Arlington, Mass., and daughter Michaela Aladjem of Burlington, Vt., and Michaela’s father Peter Aladjem of Watertown, Mass.; Michael Homza, daughter Lauren, and Lauren’s mother Heidi French Homza, of Boise, Idaho; Margaret and Charles Langworthy of Ferrisburgh, Vt., and daughter Mary of Moab, Utah; and Thomas and Julia Homza of Anchorage, Alaska, and sons William of Cambridge, Mass., and Jonathan of Anchorage. Mary is also survived by her lifelong sister-friend Margret Maloney of Summerville, S.C., who is essentially “Aunt” to all Mary’s children.
In accordance with Mary’s wishes, there will be a private family Mass and then a public celebration of Mary’s life at a later date. Donations in memory of Mary may be made by check to EastView at Middlebury, with EastView Annual Giving Fund — Mary Homza in the memo line and sent to 100 EastView Terrace, Middlebury, VT 05753.
Arrangements are under the direction of Sanderson Funeral Home. The family welcomes remembrances of Mary at www.sandersonfuneralservice.com.◊
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