Nearly two years ago, the community at St. Matthew’s Child Development Center lost one of their most beloved members. Last Sunday, they dedicated a tribute to her at the school — a special archway, affectionately named “Miss Mary Lane.”
Mary Bordelon passed away in November of 2015. For the preceding 25 years she had been the director of St. Matthew’s, growing it from a two day a week Mother’s Day Out program to a five day a week certified preschool program.
“She not only served as Director of the CDC, she was also truly dedicated to the church and all of its ministries for young children,” said former curriculum director Laurie Pitzer. “I worked with her for almost eight years, and she rarely took a day off. She greeted families every single morning at the front gate, and she never missed saying ‘good-bye’ each afternoon. I can recall her cutting off afternoon meetings with me, just to make sure she was by the gate ten minutes before dismissal. It wasn’t in her job title, but she was like a mother to so many of us, staff and parents.”
Bordelon had announced her retirement at St. Matthew’s back-to-school breakfast in August of 2015. Initially, staff had intended on making squares for a quilt to present her at the May 2016 End-of-Year Open House.
“The past few years, children painted quilt squares that our teachers and a few parents sewed for the end-of-year silent auction,” said Pitzer. “Since the quilts were always so beautiful, and our teachers were so incredibly creative, I thought we could each make one square and have one quilt sewn as a retirement gift for her. However, her unexpected passing changed everything.”
As the community brainstormed a suitable memorial, an idea to transition the quilt squares to tiles began to take shape. In the meantime, new Director Annette Garza and the staff planted a lemon tree in memory of Bordelon outside the office.
Church trustees, with input from the Children’s Weekday Ministries Board members, decided the front archway would be the perfect spot for a lasting memorial. Tiles were made by past and present students, staff, church members, and families.
Janet Galyean, the Children’s Weekday Ministries chairperson, said that there were numerous volunteers to thank.
“Board member and school parent Katherine Hughes took on the project when it was just an idea and made it happen, chasing down a source for the tiles and finding out what we would need to do,” said Galyean. “Also, Dave and Linda Renner were instrumental in the design of the project once the tiles were all completed. Longtime church members and friends of Mary, the name ‘Miss Mary Lane’ was Dave’s idea and he designed and painted the tiles that serve as the sign. Dave and Linda laid out each of the 95 tiles prior to installation.”
Other integral volunteers were Kendra Alves, Annette Garza, Sarah Cruise, Lee Messina, and Alexis Pilato.
Reverend Virginia Wall supported the project and honored Bordelon during the October unveiling after the church service which was attended by friends and Bordelon’s family.
“She really was a godly person,” said Pitzer. “I’d like to think she’s a guardian angel to us all now.”