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Stagg High School Mourns Loss of Beloved English Teacher Mary Ogarek, 33

Visitation will be held Friday, April 11 from 3 to 9 p.m.

Mary Ogarek was the first one in the door at Stagg High School, and often the last one to leave. 

The beloved English teacher at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School didn't just "do" the job—she lived it. 

"Being a teacher was who she was," said Principal Eric Olsen. "It was her person."

Ogarek, 33, died Wednesday, April 9, after an illness. She taught several English courses, in addition to her role as one of the school’s junior advanced placement teachers. She directed school plays, and helped coordinate prom. Ogarek was engaged to the school's choir director, Chris Betz. 

"Mary Eileen had a fabulous zest for life, travel, fashion, literature and inspiring young minds,” read a statement issued by family Thursday. "She was quick-witted, kind, gentle and loving. Her life and the strength and grace shown during her illness serves as an inspiration to all."

Olsen describes Ogarek as "the brightest, most passionate, most inspirational" faculty member he has worked with. Her impact on students can never be quantified, he said. Her passion for the written word sparked a love of reading in her classes. Students sought her guidance, before and after their time at the school—many returning to visit after their graduation.

"She was one of those people who was central to the school," Olsen said. "All of our hearts are broken over here."

The school is providing counseling for any students who require it. 

Visitation will be held Friday from 3 to 9 p.m., at Demar-Kaminski Funeral Home, 7861 S. 88th Ave., in Justice. The funeral will be held service will be held at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 7240 W. 57th St., Summit.

Ogarek will return to the school one last time Saturday. Her funeral procession winds through the school's driveway. Her students will be waiting, in their Stagg orange and blue. 

For a complete obituary, click here. 

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