Written by Eileen Murphy Campbell '67
Proud 1944 graduate, Mary Lewis Selsky embodied the true essence of a Little Flower alumna. Her joy-filled spirit and deep sense of loyalty were shared lovingly and without reservation throughout her life. First and foremost, she was devoted to her husband, Joe and found tremendous delight in their five children, ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. As matriarch of this large family, Mary infused their lives with fun. She cherished the annual family vacation to the Jersey shore and delighted in the whole family opening Christmas presents on her living room floor every year. Her family reports that she gave the best hugs and kisses and, at 88, she danced until 12:30 in the morning at her granddaughter’s wedding! She was truly adored by her family and friends alike and the memories she created will continue to be deeply cherished.
Mary grew up in St. Henry’s Parish near 8th and Cayuga. Living on just the other side of Hunting Park, Mary walked to Little Flower. After graduation she married Joseph Selsky and moved to Northeast Philadelphia where they started their family. Mary was an active member of Resurrection parish for over 60 years, where she also served as crossing guard for 25 years. Her joyous spirit was shared through song. She sang with the Sweet Adelines, which she referred to as “the singing ladies” as well as around the house adding spunk to everyday life. Mary had a wide circle of friends and was a fixture in her Rhawnhurst neighborhood where she used the same Acme, hairdresser, and gas station for more than 50 years. Mary died in August 2017.
Mary demonstrated particular allegiance to her alma mater, Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls through her ongoing support, participation in alumnae events, and remembering Little Flower in her will. A great source of pride was when granddaughter, Madolin “Maggie” Kennedy, carried on her legacy by graduating from Little Flower in 1993. “Attending Little Flower created a special bond between my grandmother and me. She was there for every milestone, from proms to Ring Night to articles I wrote for the Theresian. It’s something I wish every girl could experience. I now have her graduation ring that keeps that experience going.”
Mary’s son, John says, “My mother was part of that “Greatest Generation” who grew up during the challenging times of the Depression and World War II, then raised families and, over the years, held together their communities, the country and the world.”
With a chuckle, John shared that his mother, while not quite frivolous, did believe money was meant to be spent. John is certain his mom would approve of him using his inheritance to help the Selsky family establish the Mary Lewis Selsky Scholarship.
As someone who received an academic scholarship to Holy Ghost Prep, John also feels good about paying it forward. During the process of establishing the scholarship, John learned of a rising senior, who is the child of a single mom - and whose tuition was in arrears. It was unclear if she would be able to return this academic year. So, in memory of his mom, John made an additional donation to bring the student’s outstanding account up-to-date. Through his generosity, this amazing young woman is now completing her senior year as a Diocesan Scholar, which means she takes classes at St. Joseph’s University three mornings a week while fulfilling her senior year requirements at Little Flower in the afternoon.
Last month, two deserving eighth graders and their families learned the exciting news that they will each receive a Mary Lewis Selsky Scholarship, a nearly half scholarship that will follow the young women through all four years at Little Flower. That’s three more lives touched by the legacy of Mary Selsky. John urges more alumnae and their families to consider supporting the exceptional young women who want to attend Little Flower. He adds, “There is no greater joy than knowing you are helping bright, motivated - but financially challenged - young women reach their potential!”