On Sunday, April 4, Mary Wood passed away suddenly at her family holiday home in Sedgefield. Mary had been a member of the Computer Science Department at UCT for over two decades.
Her colleagues and students are deeply shocked and saddened at this tragic loss of someone so full of life who has been the heart of the department in every sense of the word for so many years.
Mary joined the department initially as a secretary but was soon promoted to administrative assistant and in time became responsible for overseeing an office of four administrative staff.
But with Mary's extensive knowledge and experience of the UCT system, she was always far more to the department than these mere titles might suggest - we all benefited from the reassurance that Mary would know what to do or whom to contact in any situation, and her extensive social network of friends on campus could be relied upon to help whenever it was needed.
While her knowledge and efficiency in her job was exceptional, what epitomises Mary for all of us in the department was her caring nature. Not only did she truly care that the work of the department always be done well - "she was the one whom one could always rely on to care in the final analysis", as one colleague put it - she also cared deeply about the welfare of all the students and staff that crossed her path.
When I asked how people remembered her, it was her friendly, caring and jolly nature that everyone mentioned first. As some students put it: "She spoke with a smile and cracked friendly jokes and really made me feel like I was her friend or someone close to her. This was before she even knew me by name", "The first time we spoke, she spoke to me as if she has known me since I was a baby", and "She was a great help, all along maintaining a fantastic sense of humour".
Her colleagues also speak of missing her warmth, her infectious laugh, her heart of gold, her support when they needed a caring person to speak to, and the fact that she always had time for people, despite her workload.
Although Mary suffered from diabetes she handled her health problems well and made sure that they did not affect her work or her interaction with others. Personally, I always admired the way she managed this, and her courage in dealing with the problems that she faced.
I shall forever miss her kindness and understanding. There can be few who have been fortunate to work with someone as caring and interested in others as Mary was; her place cannot be filled and she will be sadly missed by us all.
Associate Professor Sonia Berman
Department of Computer Science
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