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Longtime South Seneca educator, former school board member dies in crash

The South Seneca Central School District is mourning the loss of a longtime teacher and former board of education member after a crash on Thursday.

Superintendent Steve Zielinski posted a heartfelt message to the district’s Facebook page, and to the community-at-large, about the passing of Mary Church.


“We are heartbroken tonight to learn of the passing of Mary Church, who succumbed to injuries as the result of a car accident [Thursday],” Zielinski wrote. “We are confident that almost all of you reading this have been blessed by Mary’s endless generosity and service over a life dedicated to others. She served for decades in the field of education, not only here at home but literally around the globe. But most of all, she loved South Seneca.”

Church was known as the ‘founder’ of the district’s Alternative Classroom at the high school complex. Zielinski said she made it her mission to ensure every student who entered that room knew they were valued and loved. “I saw her face light up when she talked about running into former students who remember her kindness years and years later,” he continued. “People remember her knitting through meetings—always making another hat, or scarf, sweater to give as a gift. I saw her give a hat away at last Wednesday’s board meeting, and it pains me to realize now that it was her last.”

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Zielinski said in the letter to community that Church was serving as South Seneca’s representative on the TST BOCES school board, and that she was also active in the Four County School Boards Association.

“And now, we say goodbye, Mary,” the letter adds. “We love you, and know that you’ll be watching over us.”

Details of the accident that took Church’s life are unknown at this time.