Marilyn S. Gondek ’88 died on April 18, 2020, in Brunswick, Maine.
(The following appeared in Central Maine on April 28, 2020)
Marilyn Jeannette Sterling Gondek, an avid local and family historian, passed away after a period of illness April 18, 2020 at Midcoast Hospital, Brunswick, with her beloved husband at her side. Marilyn was born August 1, 1950 in Waterville and was the eldest daughter of F. Donald Sterling and Frances Lander Merrill Sterling. She grew up in Bingham, and enjoyed exploring the Upper Kennebec Valley with her family. She enjoyed family trips to the Lander-Merrill camp at Pleasant Pond in Caratunk. Her commitment and passion for the region, and her family’s roots there, inspired her to research and publish on local and family history. In 2017, she published a book, “The Forks of the Kennebec: Sources for an Early History”, which was intended to be the first of a series of works on the towns of the Upper Kennebec Valley. A second was already well underway. She graduated from Dana Hall School (Wellesley, Mass.) in 1968. In 1988, she graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, where she was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She continued her studies in art history and religion and obtained a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, graduating cum laude. In 1969 she married Richard H. Gondek, who she met working at Grant’s Department Store in Skowhegan. Together for over 50 years, they meant the world to each other. They had two children and settled in Topsham. She was a devoted mother filling the home with fun, songs, and home-baking. Marilyn had extensive experience in business and accounting management for the non-profit sector, particularly the arts. She worked for local Maine arts organizations such as The Theater Project and the Maine State Music Theater as well as the prestigious Yale School of Drama. She was in senior management at The Institute for Global Ethics based in Camden, Maine for several years. Marilyn loved art and music and played the piano. In her later years, her long interest in the history and genealogy of the Upper Kennebec region of Maine, where her ancestors settled in the 1830s, led her to an instrumental role in the establishment of the Old Canada Road Historical Society in Bingham. As a member of the board of directors, and a key volunteer, she was important in the organization of the archive and making information available to the public. Every new artifact or collection of papers donated to the Society was her delight. Marilyn was predeceased by her beloved parents; her brother Donald “Bud” Sterling and sister Janet Sterling Thorp. She is survived by her husband, Richard, with whom she shared her love of her hometown of Bingham and who created beautiful gardens for her at their home there; her son, Jason Sterling Gondek and his wife, Melissa, her daughter, Dr. Meggen Merrill Gondek, and her partner, Tim Ellis, and her beloved grandson, Matthew Ellis; her dear sister, Martha Sterling-Golden, sister-in-law, Irene Gondek, brother-in-law, David Gondek and his wife, Elizabeth; and many beloved nieces and nephews.