Mary Stanaway Secora

Honored by:Nancy Polster
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Mary Stanaway Secora is employed by Services for Independent Living, Columbia, Missouri where she is technology specialist and director of Show-Me Tech, an assistive technology demonstration center. In this capacity she works with people with disabilities helping to equip them with devices needed to better function in their daily lives. She moved into this position in 1993 after proving her success as the coordinator of the community living program, when from 1986 to 1993 she led an adult day program for individuals with physical limitations most as a result of severe head injury from an accident or due to cerebral palsy.

Born Mary Polster in 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri, Mary grew up in the suburb of Richmond Heights. As a very young child perhaps two or three, a tumor was discovered in her left eye for which surgery was performed at age six and the eye removed. World War II technology was not advanced; today the eye might have been saved. As an adult, macular degeneration developed in the sighted eye which has drastically reduced her ability to see; she is considered legally blind. Options were limited as a result of this optic disability but Mary has capitalized on her strengths and used these to effectively advance in a career.

Mary began her studies at Central College in Fayette, Missouri but transferred to Iowa State University for the sophomore year and received a bachelor's degree in a distributed studies major. In 1961 she married a classmate, James Stanaway, and upon their graduations in 1962, the two moved to Clinton, Missouri where Jim had his first job in agricultural extension. The couple moved to Boonville, Missouri where they eventually began to farm primarily marketing purebred Hampshire hogs. They raised two daughters, Suzy, born in 1964, and Janet born in 1967. Mary was a major contributor to the farm and related business, but in 1976 when the marriage failed, she found it necessary to move from the farm. This could have been a personal disaster for a woman who had been out of the work force for over twelve years and with extremely limited sight.

It was at this point that Mary's strength, determination and character were tested and realized. She accepted a position with Boonslick Industries of Boonville, a sheltered employment workshop for people with physical and mental developmental disabilities. She held the position of production supervisor, 1976-1985 and handled a number of other short-term responsibilities while there. This led to her current employment with Services for Independent Living. Mary married Millard (Zeke) Secora in 1979. They live in Columbia, Missouri.

Mary Stanaway Secora is proud to have completed her education at Iowa State, to have walked the campus paths, including this Plaza of Heroines area. She has lived her entire life with a disability but has never complained about her inability to see as the majority of us do. Mary has used her personal skills, especially her creativity, personality, public speaking proficiency and the ability to befriend others, to great advantage in her work with physically and mentally challenged individuals.

Submitted on 12/20/94