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Anna Mae Seeley (born Menapace)


Gender: Female

Date of Death: May 18, 2008

Birth Place: Mount Carmel, PA

Death Place: New Brighton, NY


Spouse: David Seeley

Date of Marriage: July 4, 1955

ANNA MAE SEELEY, 80 Led 2 Island museums
Date of Death: 05/18/2008

Wife and mother welcomed African sojourn

Anna Mae Menapace Seeley, 80, a New Brighton resident who wasn’t a museum professional but was persuaded to run two troubled Staten Island museums, died Sunday at home of congestive heart failure.

Mrs. Seeley, who usually used Mae as her first name, was born in Mount Carmel, Pa. She studied at Barnard College, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree.

She was teaching in a public elementary school in Manhattan when she met David Seeley.

At the time, he was in law school at Yale and had no intention of marrying. “If it hadn’t been for Mae, I probably would have been a hermit,” he said. After three dates, he proposed. They wed on July 4, 1955.

They lived in Boston and in Washington D.C., for the next seven years. By 1961, they had three children ages 5, 3 and 12 months. That year, Mr. Seeley took a job training Peace Corps teachers in Nigeria.

Other women with small children might have balked at an African sojourn. Mrs. Seeley was delighted. “She was adventurous,” her husband recalled.

The family traded Washington for Staten Island in 1967, purchasing a 14-room, 1853-vintage house on a New Brighton hilltop. The house was “a wreck,” David Seeley declared. Nevertheless, it sat on a one-acre lot and had 12 fireplaces.

Although she considered motherhood her profession, Mrs. Seeley regularly found herself employed outside the home. In the 1970s, she spent some time as a volunteer at High Rock Park Conservation Center, and eventually agreed to accept a salary and an office, as executive director.

Later, in 1976, fellow board members at the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences (Staten Island Museum) convinced her to become executive director of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences.

Despite severe fiscal constraints, she saw to it that the museum published a catalogue of its top 100 objects on the occasion of its centenary in 1981.

She left the Institute in 1983 but was lured back into the museum scene just two years later by the board of the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in Rosebank. In 1990, she retired, leaving the tiny, undercapitalized museum in better shape than she had found it.

Other organizations benefited by her attentions. She served terms on the boards of the Staten Island Botanical Garden and was a founding member of the Staten Island Children’s Museum.

She was a past president of the Curtis High School Parent-Teacher Association and a delegate to the citywide Parents Association.

She liked gardening, photography, traveling, movies, reading and PBS/Channel 13.

She was a 40-year communicant at Christ Episcopal Church in New Brighton. She was a member of the vestry and sang in the choir for many years.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Seeley is survived by a son, Nathaniel; four daughters, Sarah Mitchell, Anne Seeley, Mary Seeley, and Louise Seeley; a brother, Stephen Menapace, and six grandchildren.

The Rev. Charles Howell, rector of Christ Church, will officiate at a funeral service Monday at 11 a.m. in the church. Arrangements for a cremation were made by Meislohn-Silvie Funeral Home, Port Richmond.

Published in the Staten Island Advance (NY) – May 20, 2008
SEELEY–Anna Mae (nee Menapace). Beloved wife of David, mother of Nat, Sarah, Anne, Mary and Louise. Died peacefully in her sleep early May 18th, 2008, age 80. Predeceased by brothers, Ralph and William Menapace. Funeral 11am, Monday, May 26th, 2008, Christ Episcopal Church, Staten Island, followed by luncheon. Friends will be received at Church Parish House, Thursday, May 22nd, 2-4pm and 7-9pm.

Published in The New York Times (NY) – May 20, 2008

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