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April 16, 2023 - April 23, 2023

  • MRHS presents Mary Spengler '64

    When Mary Spengler (Class of 1964) attended Maria Regina, she recalls it was a time of tumultuous societal changes as well as the changes in the Catholic Church that was engaged in a comprehensive process of reform. She was struck by how the Sisters of the Resurrection “opened up and became more embracing” about the dramatic challenges that defined the era.


    As a new Maria Regina freshman, the young Mary had personally experienced great change as she and her family had recently moved from Queens. A new home, a new neighborhood, and a new school can be unsettling for a teenage girl. Fortunately, Mary found Maria Regina’s students to be very friendly and welcoming, as were members of the administration and faculty. More than 50 years later, her favorite memory is the “great collegiality among my classmates.”


    Given Mary’s remarkable career as an accomplished nurse, administrator, and senior executive in the healthcare sector, it is not surprising she was among the 21 women who were celebrated in Westchester Magazine’s October 2021 feature, “Westchester Women in Business in 2021 Who Are Making an Impact,” as CEO of Hospice of Westchester (HOW). Speaking about the leadership talents that Mary brings to her role as HOW’s top executive, the article notes: “Guiding patients and families through the most difficult time of their lives takes a team effort. At HOW, Spengler leads a group of professionals who lend support to individuals in need of end-of-life care while offering comfort to their loved ones.”


    It also cites: “Despite the pandemic, Mary was able to keep HOW’s staff employed and the organization running, accommodating patients, where they reside (private homes, nursing, or assisted-living facilities), just as it always has.” In the 12 years she has been at the helm of HOW, Mary has been developing programs “to address the needs of those facing a life-limiting illness with dignity and compassion, by offering a medical director, nurses, home health aides, spiritual care, pain management, emotional support, bereavement services, massage, reflexology, art therapy, and music therapy.” She has also helped create HOW’s very specialized children’s program.


    Prior to HOW, Mary worked for eight years at Fifth Avenue Hospital and then at White Plains Hospital for 32 years in a variety of healthcare roles. She is also a breast cancer survivor, which has only further deepened her compassion for patients facing serious health issues.


    Maria Regina’s education shaped Mary’s career path, that continued with her obtaining a Master’s in Nursing at New York Medical College. Looking back on her Maria Regina years, Mary fondly recalls Sr. Eustelle’s English class, “which was always interesting. She had a good sense of humor and wasn’t afraid to show it.” She also enjoyed Ms. Casey’s general science class. “She always was encouraging to the students, never judgmental, would never embarrass anyone, and was very welcoming.” And then there was Ms. Leiserwho coached the school’s basketball team and taught physical education.  “She was great. She accommodated everyone’s physical prowess or lack thereof.”


    In addition to intramural sports, Mary enjoyed a wide range of extracurricular activities, including the Reginian, Classical Club, French Club, Usherette Society, Biology Club, Junior Red Cross, and Dramatics Club.


    When asked what words of wisdom she would like to share with today’s students, Mary said: “Embrace your high school years both with your fellow students and the teachers. Don’t wish for it to go quickly. Particularly focus on personal interactions, not just social media. The return will be great on the investment.” 


    With more than a half-century of success to her credit, Mary’s sound advice speaks worlds.