Mary was born in New York City on September 5, 1958. The fourth of Elmar and Joan Sepp's six children, her love for words and interest in culture and travel were apparent from early childhood. Blessed with a ferocious love of humanity, Mary was driven to learn languages, travel to distant lands, and share the things she'd learned along the way.
Graduating near the top of her class from Cardinal Spellman High School, Mary accepted a scholarship to Fordham University, where she majored in French and minored in Russian. Having achieved fluency in the French language very quickly, Mary completed her junior year abroad at the University of Nancy, France, where she began to form many lifelong friendships with people from around the world.
A truly global citizenâholding citizenship from Ireland, Estonia and the U.S.A.âMary's language skills quickly landed her the highest-ranking position achievable by a non-Canadian citizen with the Canadian Consulate in New York City as an immigraiton officer. Furthering her interest in Russian language and culture, Mary completed a master's degree in Russian Area Studies at Hunter College while deepening her Russian-language skills under the tutelage of Maria Tolstoy, granddaughter of Leo Tolstoy. A true polyglot, Mary also began learning Estonian and Swedish at this time.
Longing for new challenges and adventure, Mary and a Scottish colleague from the Canadian Consulate left their positions to travel around the world, finding many amazing adventures as they made their way across Europe, Egypt, Asia and Australia, including a brief stint as a factory worker in Sydney, Australia!
Not long after returning home and a series of unsatisfying jobs, Mary traveled to Kalinin Russia (now Tver) to participate in a Russian-language graduate program with Brown University. After returning, Mary began teaching and teacher training, eventually temporarily moving to Tallinn, Estonia to teach Business English at a local language institute. After returning to the U.S. and eventually earning a Ph.D. in Corpus/Computational Linguistics from C.U.N.Y Graduate Center, her doctoral studies would prompt an extended stay in Siena, Italy to study Italian followed by a return to Estoniaâthis time Tartu, Estonia's academic capitalâto focus on research for her doctoral dissertation.
Mary began her last position as a professor in the Academic Literacy & Linguistics departmentâwhere she served as deputy chairâat the Borough of Manhattan Community College campus of C.U.N.Y.
It may sound like Mary was all work and no play considering her studies and professional achievements, but nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to beingâwhat all who knew her would callâ"the sweetest person you could ever meet", Mary had a love for life that included interests in dance, music, popular culture, film, art, decorating, fashion, the New York Mets and Knicks, religion, politics and family.
Mary is survived by four of her siblings: Eileen Sepp, Joan Daley, Alan Sepp and EJ Sepp; as well as five nieces: Erin, Jessica, Kimberly, Taylor and Ava; and three nephews: Scott, Matthew, and Michael; a large extended family, many beloved friends, colleagues and students. She was preceded in death by her brother, Fr. Michael Sepp and her parents, Elmar and Joan Sepp.
A devout Roman Catholic residing in Larchmont, NY, Mary passed away quietly at White Plains Hospital due to complications from lymphoma.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Fr. Michael Sepp Scholarship. Please find the link to donate on this page: https://bronxaltar.churchgiving.com/
A celebration of Mary's life will be on Thursday October 8, 2020, from 3PM-7PM, at Pelham Funeral Home.
A Mass of the Resurrection will be held on Friday October 9, 2020, 10:30 at Immaculate Conception Church, 53 Winter Hill Rd Tuckahoe, NY.