Marcia Sears died unexpectedly Sunday, April 13, 2014. The long-time resident of Montevallo and editor of the Shelby County Reporter was 86.
Marcia Janis Mockett was born Aug. 24, 1927, in Lincoln, Neb., the daughter of Edwin Oliver and Perdita Jameson Mockett. During college, she worked with the Henry Street Settlement in New York City. After graduating in 1948 as a mortarboard at the University of Nebraska, Marcia married Ralph Westgate Sears and moved to Montevallo. He began a career teaching radio and speech at the University of Montevallo, while she worked as a teacher and social worker for the state of Alabama.
Children Steve, Sally and Randie’s early memories include their mother as the founder of the Meadowlark Nursery School, held in the family home in Ashville Circle. Dozens of Meadowlark graduates remember the May Pole weaving dance, parading inside a papier-mâché caterpillar, and Marcia’s animated piano playing, especially for musical chairs. Her passion for children and creative activity involving everyone around her became a beloved attribute of her life. Three-legged races, impromptu croquet matches and elaborate puppet shows were all to be expected when visiting Marcia, even in later years.
The family purchased WBYE Radio in Calera, and later the Shelby County Reporter. During the 1960s and 1970s Marcia and Ralph covered the news, winning awards and reporting on the county’s changes. Under their watchful eyes, the region changed from segregated to integrated, from rural to suburban and from linotype to computers. Ralph served as a member of the Montevallo City Council, then mayor of Montevallo for 24 years, until his death in 1996. Marcia enjoyed collaborating with editors from around Alabama. She was the first woman to head the Alabama Press Association, which gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
In 1984, they sold the news organizations, which by then included the Childersburg Star and the Coosa Press. Instead of retiring, the couple travelled extensively, often joining newspaper and municipal associations meeting in overseas capitals.
Travel was important to Marcia. Exploring took Marcia and Ralph to Alaska when the state was still a territory. World’s Fairs in Seattle and New York City gave them impetus to show their children the world. Loaded in the back seat of a Chevrolet station wagon, they drove to the Panama Canal on a yet unpaved Pan American Highway. Visiting Steve in Paris in 1974, meeting Sally in Moscow in 1982 and later trips with Randie in Argentina, Belize, cruising the Mexican coast and rediscovering National Parks provided cherished memories of special, shared experiences.
Perhaps Marcia’s favorite trip was the annual thousand mile drive to the cabin built by her grandfather on the shores of Pelican Lake, in Crow Wing County, Minn. As a child with her sister, Joan, and later with Ralph, she introduced her children, grandchildren and great-granddaughter to the joys of icy blue water, rich red agates on the shore and family stories told well over wonderful food.
She served on the boards of the Birmingham Children’s Aid Society and the Cahaba Council of the Girl Scouts of America. She was a faithful member of many Montevallo organizations. She enjoyed the Montevallo Evening Garden Club, the American Association of University Women, several bridge groups and was a trustee at the Montevallo Presbyterian Church.
She lived with grace and courage after Ralph died too early and too quickly in 1996. She is survived by her sister, Joan Mockett Casari, of Omaha, Neb.; three children, Steven and Patsy Sweeney Sears of Montevallo, Sally and Richard Belcher of Atlanta, Ga., and Randie and David Rosenberg, of Midlothian, Va.; seven grandchildren, Molly Sears Rosenberg and Brian Seavey, Andrew Jameson Rosenberg, Spenser Ross Sears, Brooke Belcher, Robin Belcher Micou, William Sears Belcher and Sarah Madeleine Sears; and one great-grandchild, Mae Lavender Seavey.
A memorial service is planned for Montevallo Presbyterian Church on Thursday, April 17, at 11 a.m.
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