ITHACA

Maria E. Rabb, of Ithaca, NY, died peacefully at home on Friday, May 8, 2015, surrounded by her family and friends.

Daughter of Maria and Ambrus Rabb, she was born on April 20, 1966 in Livingston, NJ.  She grew up bilingual; in fact she only spoke Hungarian, her mother tongue, until she started preschool. Maria graduated Montclair Kimberley Academy and then studied geology and biology as an undergraduate at Brown University, but her true passion was rowing. She loved the team spirit, the early workouts together with her friends, and the excitement of races. (As a consequence, Maria often fell asleep on a stack of textbooks in the library after dinner.) She was the stroke for the Brown women’s varsity eight that won the Eastern Sprints in 1988. Upon graduation, Maria followed her family roots and moved to Hungary on a Fulbright Scholarship. After college, Maria worked on environmental issues for a few years and then received her Master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Amsterdam. This is where she met her future husband, Tivadar Szegletes. Maria’s career included several NGO jobs focusing on the environment and, in recent years, Waldorf education. She was also a devoted home maker and mother to her three children, Balazs, Zsofi, and Balint.

After moving between continents several times, the family settled in scenic Ithaca fourteen years ago - the longest Maria ever lived in one place. Although Maria grew up downhill skiing, she quickly fell in love with cross-country skiing upon moving to upstate New York. She enjoyed skiing with friends and family and discovering new trails of the Finger Lakes area. Maria was always surrounded by friends, whether she was in Europe or somewhere in the US. One time, she was surprised when she was coming home on a small plane from Philadelphia to Ithaca, that she did not recognize anyone. (However, later she discovered that she knew at least one person). She loved listening to live music, being outdoors, rowing with friends and her daughter, traveling, and trying out various cuisines and desserts.

For the past six years, Maria battled inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive disease. She was gracious, brave, committed, and focused on her family even in difficult moments. In her last weeks, she spent her remaining energy on planning the future well-being of her children. Her death left a gaping hole in the hearts of those who knew her well. In accordance with her wishes, Maria’s body was laid to rest with a small, private ceremony at Greensprings Natural Cemetery in Newfield, NY.

Maria is survived by Tivadar Szegletes, her husband of 21 years, sons Balazs and Balint, daughter Zsofi, mother Maria Rabb, brother Anthony Rabb, her Aunt Muci, other family members, and many treasured friends across the globe.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Cancer Resource Center (http://www.crcfl.net/), Ithaca Hospicare (http://www.hospicare.org), Brown University Women’s Crew Team (http://brownbears.com/sports/w-crew/index) or her children’s college fund.

A celebration of Maria’s life will be held on July 25, 2015 (Saturday) at the Foundation of Light Ithaca (http://folithaca.org/finding-us ). Further details about this event will be posted at www.mariarabbmemorial.com.