Vivienne Sikora Gilroy
After a full, fine, and long life, Vivienne Sikora Gilroy of Union, died on Sunday, November 17th. She was 93 years old and died peacefully at home.
Born in 1926 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, she lived her life in Union County - Elizabeth, Cranford, New Providence, and since 2004, Union. She was the only child of the late Louise Mack Sikora and Andrew Sikora, Jr., long-time residents of Elizabeth.
A memorial service, in celebration of her life, will be held on Saturday, November 23, 11:30 am, at the Higgins and Bonner Echo Lake Funeral Home, 582 Springfield Avenue, Westfield, NJ. www.higginsandbonner.com
Vivienne received her elementary education at St. Genevieve School, Elizabeth, and graduated in 1944 from the city’s all-girls Battin High School. She treasured her Battin experience as an example of American public education at its best and she graduated as salutatorian of her class. She remained a loyal member of the Class of 1944 and happily attended reunion meetings of her class throughout the years.
Vivienne then headed to Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, where she had been awarded a full four-year scholarship. Restrictions on wartime travel precluded a pre-enrollment visit to Bates, so she was going off for her first day to a place she had never seen.
At Bates, Vivienne was a four-year Dean’s List student, but she also joined the theatre group, under the tutelage of Professor Lavinia Miriam Schaeffer, professor of speech and the director of the college’s Robinson Players.
She was chosen for leading roles in several college productions and after her graduation, starred in community theatre productions in Maine and Florida and for many years she was an active member of the Cranford Dramatic Club. Her memory and love for Professor Schaeffer remained strong and she was one of former students who, after the death of the professor, established the Bates College LMS Student Scholarship Fund scholarship in her honor.
In 1948 she married Edward N. Gilroy, Jr, of Elizabeth, NJ, with whom she had several children: Peter Edward, Mary Louise, Patricia Ann, and Timothy Andrew.
In her early middle age, Vivienne returned to the academic world, initially as a graduate student at Kean University, from where she was awarded a master’s degree in the behavioral sciences in 1969. She was then hired by Union County College (UCC) as an instructor of psychology.
Life at UCC proved to be very fulfilling. Vivienne was truly happy to find the students were a diverse group in both their academic and life experiences. She found pleasure and excitement in sharing with her students what she had learned at Battin and Bates – that a teacher should always remember the feeling of leading students to know something they previously did not know, or even thought about before.
While at UCC, Vivienne joined the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), recognizing the value of the AAUP professional standards and its advocacy of fairness in issues of concern to both faculty and administrations. Over the years, she held numerous AAUP offices at local, state and national levels.
Beginning in 1974, the UCC faculty voted to seek collective bargaining as a means of preserving academic freedom and shared governance, relative to wages and other working conditions. Vivienne was a leader in these events and was elected as a member of the collective bargaining team which negotiated the first contract between the college’s AAUP chapter and the college’s Board of Trustees.
In 1994 the Collective Bargaining Congress of the AAUP awarded Vivienne the Marilyn Sternberg Award for her work in collective bargaining. And in 1998, the New Jersey Conference of the AAUP recognized her for her contributions to the principles of the AAUP.
After many years at UCC, Vivienne retired in 2000, at the rank of full professor. Along with her classroom experiences, Vivienne greatly enjoyed her relationships with her many UCC colleagues. As such, she was particularly proud to have been honored at the 75th anniversary celebration of the college in 2008.
On the occasion of her 90th birthday she wrote: “I’m lucky to have had a life of 90 years, and I am joyous in having lived it!”
Vivienne is survived by her children: Peter Edward Gilroy, (spouse Barbara Corrao), Mary Louise Hogan (spouse Chip Hogan), Patricia Ann Reidy and Timothy Andrew Gilroy.
Memorial donations to the Bates College Lavinia Miriam Schaeffer Scholarship Fund will be very much appreciated, and should be directed to Ms. Sarah Pearson, Vice President – College Advancement, 2 Andrews Road, Lewiston, ME 04240.
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