Joan Schine's living legacies: love for family, passion for knowledge
Joan Schine will forever be known as the former Westport Board of Education chairman who championed a program to bus students from Bridgeport to Westport's schools back in the early 1970s. However, many of those who spoke at a memorial service at Town Hall Sunday spoke of much more than her historic term heading the education board.
"Her 11 grandchildren were her greatest joy," said Judy Seltz, Schine's eldest daughter.
Whenever a grandchild graduated high school, Schine would take them on a trip anywhere they wanted to go -- graduate and grandma. Countries visited included Italy, Japan and Greece, among others. It was multi-generational quality time.
Steve Seltz, one of three grand children who spoke, said, "She gave her grandkids the gift of complete attention, no matter what age we were."
Besides the one-on-one trips with the grandkids, Schine loved when all the family got together every summer up at Lake Mooselookmeguntic, the second largest lake in Maine.
Granddaughter Jennifer Stelz said Joan's time on the school board is a lesson that "it's important to act on your ideals."
Schine's son Robert said his mother used to say that education is the foundation for citizens in a democracy. And she was herself, he said, a richly articulate and eloquent woman.
"Not many kids hear about John Dewey in the kitchen," Robert said.
Daughter-in-law Marita Schine said Joan had a legendary vocabulary and encyclopedic knowledge.
"It was often a race for me not to reveal how little I knew," she said.
Ruth Messinger, a niece, said Joan was a "pioneer and a fighter for justice."
Others spoke of her delicious Yorkshire pudding and pinwheel cookies.
Marita Schine said Joan was very generous in spirit. "She gave out her recipes without leaving out one single ingredient," she said. "She so wanted us to succeed."
Even so, Marita said no one will be able to duplicate the cookies she made that tasted so good.
A mother of four, more than one family member Sunday said the real Joan Schine disappeared a year-and-a-half to two years ago, as Alzheimer's disease began to take its toll.
Robert said she said she didn't care uch for most of what people say at memorials.
Rather, he remembered her saying, "To me it matters most what people say three months later after a glass of wine."
Indeed, Messinger said one of the best ways to honor someone and keep their memory alive is to continue their important work in the world "and tackle those things with Joan's passion and Joan's spirit."