Early childhood through grade 12

Hawthorne Valley Association
Mado Spiegler, a dear member of our community, passed away on March 28. Over the years, Mado was both a teacher and a parent at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, and also worked with Hawthorne Valley Farm's Visiting Students Program for a time. She had a love for learning and the arts that she shared with our community in myriad ways. We are honored to publish here the eulogy that her son Marc gave at her funeral on March 31, and invite you to share your own stories about how Mado inspired or touched your life via email. We will pass along all stories to her family.

In memoriam of Mado Spiegler - March 31, 2023

Delivered by Marc Spiegler (Mado's eldest son, Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School Class of 1986) My mother had myriad facets - she was a Surrealist artist, a teacher of many topics, the author of books on human rights, a translator of Rudolf Steiner and Joseph Beuys, a companion for long walks, the cook of amazing meals, a generous host and a highly engaged guest. Mado never took people or their time for granted. So it means a lot to her that each and everyone of you are present with us now. Most of you here this morning met our mother in the second half of her life, after she moved to Columbia County, a region she loved for its natural beauty, winding roads, rolling hills and radiant light. The first half of her life was a series of adventures. She grew up in the midst of World War II, with Nazi soldiers camped in the orchard behind her house, and her father was twice imprisoned for being a French Resistance fighter, but fortunately survived. Her parents were both beloved high-school teachers, equal partners in their marriage and the raising of three daughters. Starting in her adolescence, she traveled widely within Europe and soon had friends who lived everywhere from Como to Stockholm. Mado left Alsace as a young woman to study in Paris, where she met and married my father James. They went on to live in West Africa, serving on the University of Ghana faculty soon after the country's decolonization. Next came Oxford, England, where I was born. Shortly thereafter they moved to Chicago, where Matthew was born five years later. During my father's sabbatical year at Stanford in California, my mother helped to found the Woman Studies program. Her last big adventure, before she moved to Columbia County, was a nine-month road trip that she took with me and my brother. Packing two kids in a huge green Chevy Malibu, she drove to the Black Hills of North Dakota, above the Arctic Circle in the Yukon territory, and across to Mount McKinley in Alaska. Moving southwards at last, she went down the West Coast via Seattle and Portland to Santa Monica, where my grandmother lived, then headed east across the deserts of the Southwest and finally up the Mississippi to Chicago. We skipped school for a year, but we learned things that no classroom could ever have taught us. My mother was an anarchist, but not the sort who throws bombs. She simply didn't believe in power structures. Because power structures imply that one person is better than another, and my mother was resolutely against such judgement. That fervent belief even applied in the home. She treated us, her sons, as equals – full-fledged persons who could decide when they wanted to go to sleep, what they wanted to eat and which clothes we liked best. In retrospect, I don't think this was tactical, but I will say that we were not rebellious sons. We simply had nothing against which to rebel. There are people in this room who knew my mother since they were born, and others who've known her for more than 50 years. But even if you only met her once it was impossible not to recognize the singularity of her mind. Because she brought to every conversation an enormous reservoir of knowledge - and an intellectual dexterity in connecting different facts and philosophies in fascinating and unexpected ways. My mother had a second great gift in conversation: She had managed despite many hardships to retain the curiosity that a child has about the world, seeing it as a place full of discoveries to be made and interesting people to meet. As a rule, she listened far more than she spoke, letting others share their thoughts before adding her own. And when finally she spoke it was to illuminate, to give perspective or to navigate the conversation towards more fertile ground. Being a free spirit, my mother never taught us "useful" things, such as how to iron my clothes or balance a checkbook. But she gave us a much more important lessons - lessons learned not by instruction, but by observation. The most important to me was to value your friends and to remain constantly open to make new friends. And then to cultivate those friendships, intensely. As many of you experienced, my mother was a constant correspondent, sharing her thoughts in phone calls, text messages, images and emails. She stayed connected to an enormous number of people, many of them present today. In doing so she touched many lives, profoundly. We were lucky to have her among us, for so long, catalyzing conversations that will continue far beyond her passing.