Maria Stea, associate director of advancement for the Faculty of Science at York University, died peacefully on Nov. 25 following a short illness. She was just 43 years old.
Ms. Stea was remembered by her colleagues at York University for her gentle professionalism and deep commitment to advancing the Faculty of Science. She joined York University in 2017.
“Maria was inspired and excited by the world class research going on at the Faculty of Science from the study of wild bees to particle physics,” said her colleague and friend Suzie Lee-Hortness. “She led and was pivotal to the $3M endowment for the Chair in the Public Understanding of Astronomy and the naming of the Allan I. Carswell Observatory. She most enjoyed connecting the research faculty were undertaking to interests in the wider community and mapping connections to the research done in Science. She will be so missed by her friends and colleagues for many reasons, but especially for her wit and humour.”
Louise Spencer, assistant vice-president, Development, remembers Ms. Stea for her artistry and infectious sense of humour. “Maria was quite artistic and saw science as an art. She saw the wonder and potential in it all, from bees to physics,” said Spencer. “She was a gifted fundraiser, an amazing teammate, beautiful, highly innovative and entrepreneurial. Maria was passionate about her family, food, doing good for others and contributing in a substantial way. I will miss her laugh, gentle presence and keen intellect.
“One of my favourite memories was discussion we had about family traditions at Christmas involving the Italian tradition of preparing copious amounts of food,” said Spencer. “We talked about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus and must have giggled for about 10 minutes when she noted that she had to do special ‘stomach stretching’ exercises just to eat over this two-day period.”
Prior to her time at York University, Ms. Stea worked as a senior development officer for The Living City Foundation for the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, Centennial College, the Humber River Hospital Foundation and the Royal Ontario Museum.
Ms. Stea earned a master’s degree in arts, administration and policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto.
She leaves her many colleagues, both past and present at York University who will miss her sunny personality, infectious humor, storytelling talent and genuine kindness.
Ms. Stea was the adored daughter of Gino and Maria and a loving sister to Gianni (Stacey) and will be missed by her soul mate Joe, her aunts, uncles and many friends.
Visitation for Ms. Stea will take place on Thursday, Nov. 28, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Holy Cross Catholic Funeral Home located at 211 Langstaff Road East in Thornhill, Ont. (The entrance to the funeral home is located on Langstaff Road, west of Bayview Avenue.) The funeral mass for Ms. Stea will take place on Friday, Nov. 29 starting at 10:45 a.m. at the Chapel of St. Joseph in the Holy Cross Catholic Funeral Home. All are welcome.