Mary A. Procida, 43, an assistant professor in Temple University’s history department who died from melanoma on March 6, had devoted her life to learning.
Procida, who lived in Haddonfield, N.J., constantly challenged herself to learn new things.
Teaching history was one such endeavor.
A graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, Procida spent years as a successful tax lawyer in New York City.
She gave up law to follow her dream of teaching.
“She adored teaching,” said friend and fellow Temple history professor Harriet Friedenreich.
“She hated tax law.”
Procida went to the University of Pennsylvania and earned a Ph.D. in history in five years.
She had her first child while attending the school and graduated with her second on the way.
She began working for Temple six years ago, teaching courses on British imperialism and gender, as well as an Intellectual Heritage section.
Colleagues in the history department said that she went above and beyond those duties, serving as the department’s pre-law advisor, as well as assisting in course development, recruitment of students and on search committees for new faculty.
“She was the only untenured faculty member in [the History] department that ever chaired a committee, that I know of,” Friedenreich said.
Students who worked with Procida said that she always challenged her students just as much as she challenged herself.
Doctoral student Janet McShane-Galley said that when Procida was her advisor for one of her pre-dissertation exams, Procida would push her hard, without pushing her into despair.
“She had a way of framing questions that pushed me to do my best work,” Mc-Shane-Galley said.
“She had a great sense of humor, and never came across as demeaning.
Procida’s students absorbed her work ethic, which “kept us honest and working hard,” said doctoral student Helen Heinz.
Several students said that if a student was curious about something she did not know about, she would go and learn about it and then come back to the next class ready to discuss it.
“She didn’t demand excellence, she assumed it,” said master’s student John Oram.
Procida was awarded tenure by the board of trustees on March 11, six days after her death.
University President David Adamany said that they had hoped to recognize her achievements before she passed away.
She was highly recommended by all the members of the tenure committees.
Friedenreich said that members of the committees were especially impressed by her book, Married to the Empire: Gender, Politics and Imperialism in India, 1883-1947.
The book, which was published in 2002, is a study of the role of women in the development of India under British rule, a topic that has received little scholarly attention.
The book was an expansion of her dissertation, and was well received by the academic community.
Procida’s zeal for knowledge extended beyond the classroom into her personal life.
Her husband of nine years, Glen Moramarco, said that when she was at Harvard, she decided that she wanted to learn to play piano, without ever having taken lessons.
However, she did not simply take lessons; she auditioned for a grant from the school.
“Apparently she was terrible,” he said, but they were impressed by her fortitude and gave her the grant.”
She had played ever since, and regularly accompanied her seven-year-old son Joseph as he played the violin.
She also was an accomplished cook, and even considered becoming a pastry chef at one point, Moramarco said.
She loved to try new recipes out and have friends over to sample her creations.
Even with all of the praise she received for her academic career, her husband said that she also devoted a remarkable amount of time to her family and her children, Joseph and five-year-old Daniel.
“She would consider her children her best achievement,” he said.
Procida is survived by her father as well as her husband and sons.
Her funeral was held on March 7.
Brian White can be reached at email@example.com.