Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor of French for 25 years, died underpaid and underappreciated at age 83. She died as the result of a massive heart attack she suffered two weeks before. As it turned out, I may have been the last person she talked to.
On Aug. 16, I received a call from a very upset Margaret Mary. She told me that she was under an incredible amount of stress....Sadly, a couple of hours later, she was found on her front lawn, unconscious from a heart attack. She never regained consciousness.....
Duquesne knew all about Margaret Mary's plight, for I apprised them of it in two letters. I never received a reply, and Margaret Mary was forced to die saddened, penniless and on the verge of being turned over to Orphan's Court.
The funeral Mass for Margaret Mary, a devout Catholic, was held at Epiphany Church, only a few blocks from Duquesne....Margaret Mary was laid out in a simple, cardboard casket devoid of any handles for pallbearers -- a sad sight, but an honest symbol of what she had been reduced to by her ostensibly Catholic employer.
Her nephew, who had contacted me about her passing, implored me to make sure that she didn't die in vain. He said that while there was nothing that could be done for Margaret Mary, we had to help the other adjuncts at Duquesne and other universities who were being treated just as she was, and who could end up just like she did. I believe that writing this story is the first step in doing just that.