UPDATE: Rheua’s Memorial Service
The memorial service for Rheua has been set – it will be Sunday, August 21 at 1 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 28 Mugford Street, Marblehead, MA 01945.
Rebecca Egolf will be one of the speakers, representing the day school community. We know that final arrangements included making sure all the food at the service would be kosher so we would all attend. Always thinking of us, until the last minute.
It is with great sadness that we share with you news about the passing of Rheua Stakely, our beloved friend and colleague, who died last Thursday evening, July 7, at the Hospice of the North Shore in Danvers, Massachusetts. We know from her friends that Rheua faced the end of her life with characteristic strength and courage.
As PEJE’s expert admission coach, Rheua coached and trained hundreds of schools in the best practice of admission, recruitment, and attrition prevention. She brought the wisdom of her years of experience as an admission director in the independent school world to Jewish day schools through her writing, conferences, and one-on-one coaching, school by school. Those she trained usually stayed in touch and formed strong bonds with her, seeking her out for advice and support over many years. She taught PEJE and the day school field about the primacy of the admission function and the practices that support a first-class admission office. Rheua will be missed by her colleagues, by her fellow coaches, and mostly by the schools whose admission practices were forever changed as a result of her mentoring and expertise.
Rheua was an inspiration for so many. Here is a very small sampling of the outpouring of love.
Rheua’s life ended too soon — for her and for us who were the beneficiaries of her insight, experience, steadfastness, and courage. As Linda Simansky and I plan for the August 1-2 PEJE Admission Conference, Rheua is standing over our shoulders prodding, guiding, supporting. We are truly building on what she contributed to PEJE and to the Jewish day schools we serve. May all who knew and loved her find comfort, together, in our memories and in the recognition that her passion can live on as we continue to practice, and build on, her teachings.
We have, all of us, suffered a great loss. Rheua was a true colleague in every sense of the word. I learned a great deal from her … about schools, about education, about professionalism, about how to disagree with a colleague and emerge from the rich discussion with enhanced skills, about how to enjoy the gifts of nature, about how to be a “mench.” Finally, I learned about how to face the inevitable fact of the end of life for all mortals and do so with great dignity.
Rheua will be missed by so many. I can still hear her voice advocating strongly on behalf of admission directors and the importance of their function in our schools. I still chuckle remembering her as she struggled to understand Jewish practices and values. Whenever I was with her I learned. She was truly a model for me.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Rheua. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please add them below. May her memory be a blessing.