The world of early learning in Wisconsin has lost a rare and fiery gem; Mary Babula, recently retired WECA Director of Membership, a dear colleague, friend and mentor has died.
Within two hours of her passing a local child care program came to our offices with a line of jacketed and mittened small souls to sing to us as they do a few times a year. “ABCD, EFG…” it was only fitting that their little voices escorted Mary on her next journey. Without knowing, their presence was cathartic. Their bright smiles, their wide eyes taking everything in, their fidgeting little hands; they are why Mary did all that only Mary could do so very well in her own Mary Babula ways. For Mary knew, deeply and completely, the work of nurturing, caring for and educating our youngest children to be the most important and worthiest of work.
Mary’s career in early childhood education began as a teacher/director at Christian Day Care Center in Madison in the 1970’s. Later she became the director of Wisconsin Early Childhood Association which grew under her leadership. Mary was an advocate for children’s and teacher’s rights. She challenged law makers and modeled patience and understanding for all.
Mary was someone with many passionate commitments. She was active in music through Womonsong, international travel through Friendship Force, and issues of equity for women and families through the Wisconsin Womens Network. She loved traveling, camping and canoeing and frequently visited the Boundary Waters and many other wilderness areas.
She is survived by her domestic partner, Mary Mastaglio, family members, many many friends and her WECA family to which she gave so much. WECA, together with the Babula and Mastaglio families are discussing how best to honor Mary’s significant legacy and impact with the financial gifts that friends and colleagues have made in her name. In early 2016 we look forward to sharing more details with you.