Dr. Marilyn Sweeney Mavrinac

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Dr. Marilyn Sweeney Mavrinac, 93, long-time resident of Waterville, died on Nov. 29, 2020. While she passed away in Wisconsin, where she had been living for the past 10 years, Dr. Mavrinac maintained strong ties to Waterville.

Dr. Mavrinac is described by her children as a scholar, world traveler, adventurer, athlete, and wife and mother extraordinaire. Always interested, always involved, Dr. Mavrinac, a European historian, was determined to discover the world, its people, its places, and its history.

From the time she was a young girl, Dr. Mavrinac was devoted to learning. She began her higher education at Wellesley College, continuing her studies at Columbia University, where she earned her master’s degree, then proceeded to Harvard University, where in 1953 she began her doctoral studies in history. Over the course of her career, she taught at Hathaway Brown School, Columbia, Wellesley, the American University in Cairo, and later Colby College.

In 1957, Dr. Mavrinac temporarily set aside her scholarly pursuits to build her family with her great love, her husband, Albert Mavrinac, whom she met at Harvard. The pair traveled extensively, moving the family for periods of work and study from the home base in Maine to Africa, Asia, and Europe.

While raising her children in Waterville and overseas, Dr. Mavrinac was always involved in a mix of professional and community service activities. After teaching at Colby for a number of years, she was appointed chair of its Education department, where she built the student-teacher practicum program. At Colby, Dr. Mavrinac also developed her scholarly studies of the education of French women and the history of French Canadian settlers in Waterville, interviewing a number of local residents in Waterville as part of her research.

In her mid-60s, after her children had grown, she resumed her doctoral research, much of it undertaken in France, receiving her doctorate from Harvard University in the early 1990s.

In between their travel and study, Marilyn and Albert also made time for community involvement. After her husband passed away in 2006, Marilyn maintained her volunteer work and an active research agenda. She volunteered in a variety of organizations in Waterville, in the local Democratic Party, and in church and civic groups. She was proud to be among those organizing the first local celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. day in Waterville.

Marilyn and Albert were also avid tennis players, and were fixtures on the indoor and outdoor courts at Colby. Into her 70s, Dr. Mavrinac played in numerous tournaments, at times defeating opponents half her age.

Dr. Mavrinac is survived by her five children, Georgia (Mike), Susan (Tom), Sarah (Neil), Emily (Paul) and Tony (Yvette); 12 grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; and myriad friends and colleagues in Maine and throughout the world.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the

Mid Maine Homeless Shelter,

19 Colby St.

Waterville, ME 04901.


Dr. Marilyn Sweeney Mavrinac

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