Furnivall, Mary Wieczynski
Blacksburg friends of Mary Wieczynski Furnivall are hosting a memorial service in her honor on Saturday, May 31, 2014. Mary graduated from Blacksburg High School in 1986. She passed away in March 2014. The service will be held in the War Memorial Chapel on the Virginia Tech campus at 9:45 a.m.
Mary Wieczynski Furnivall died on March 12, 2014 in California at the age of 45. Mary graduated from Blacksburg High School in Virginia and from the University of Kentucky. She began her career with Habitat for Humanity in Americus, Georgia, and became its international partner in Guatemala in 1991. Living in remote regions and under trying conditions, Mary oversaw the building of more than one hundred simple homes for the poor and neglected of northern Guatemala. Fluent in Spanish, she received a master of science degree in public health at the Rollins School of Emory University in 1997 and joined Population Services International, dedicated to bringing health care to developing countries. Mary worked for PSI in Bolivia, elsewhere in Central America, and in Kenya.
By 2002 Mary had become expert in strategies to control the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and joined the US Agency for International Development, working from Kenya. She served as consultant to many governments in efforts to combat AIDS and various subtropical diseases in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Losotho, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, the Philippines, Ukraine, and other nations. She devised various methods to educate people about the dangers of infection and instructed many state agencies on proven public health initiatives. Her work undoubtedly directly saved many lives, and the ripple effects of her efforts have rescued untold thousands from fatal diseases.
In September 2003 Mary married David Selwyn Furnivall in Limuru, Kenya. The couple built their home on lands owned by David’s family and in 2012 adopted Justin, an abandoned orphan baby. Soon thereafter Mary was diagnosed with an extremely virulent form of cancer. Treatment at Emory in Atlanta and at the Stanford Cancer Center could not contain the spread of that disease.
She is survived also by her parents, Joseph L. and Muriel Josephine Wieczynski of Sarasota, Florida; and her brothers, Geoffrey, Daniel, and Alan. Another brother, Stephen Christopher, died in infancy.
In accord with Mary’s wishes, a ceremony commemorating her life and work will be held in Kenya at a later date.