The atmosphere was both lighthearted and intimate at former principal Jerome Marco’s memorial service June 3. As guests entered the auditorium, the M Street Brass Quintet played while a photo of Marco smiled down from a projection screen. Blue and white flowers adorned the stage.
Principal Alan Goodwin acted as host, welcoming the approximately 200 guests and clarifying that the service was intended as a celebration of Marco’s remarkable tenure. Guests joined him in a moment of silence.
“This is just what Jerry would’ve wanted,” he said. “Kind words, a nice afternoon and a touch of music and art.”
Former Gaithersburg High School principal Fred Evans, who had known Marco since 1975, spoke first. During his speech, Evans talked about the highlights of his friendship with Marco, and the audience chuckled during the various anecdotes.
“I learned he was a stellar basketball player,” he said. “But I said to students that I could beat him one-on-one anytime.”
Evans spoke about “Dr. Marco, the Friend.” He noted that Marco, informally known as the “Godfather of all MCPS administrators,” left a legacy that will never be forgotten.
After an interlude from a student string quartet, several Whitman colleagues paid tribute to “Dr. Marco, the Educator.”
“I’d like to thank Jerry one more time because you created one of the best gatherings Whitman’s had of staff in all time,” said John Keating, who headed the guidance department from the late ‘70s to the ‘90s.
Goodwin noted that regardless of the amount of time he spent at school, he always focused on his family.
Bruce Marco, son of the late principal, spoke about “Dr. Marco, the Family Man.” He recalled his father’s time at Whitman, making the audience smile and laugh with stories of his father’s fascination with sci-fi and basketball.
Guests watched a video tribute compiled by assistant principal Brandi Heckert. It included a timeline of the former educator’s career milestones, words of wisdom from Marco and words of admiration from others.
Afterward, senior Grace Laboy sang “Hallelujah,” accompanied by a guitar.
“If it’s possible, Jerry’s smiling right now,” Goodwin said.
The traditional Irish blessing sung by members of Chamber Choir marked the conclusion of the service.
Guests were invited to stay for a reception in the courtyard and admire some of the art collected during Marco’s 29 years as principal, as well as newspaper clippings and photos of Marco’s and Whitman’s achievements during his tenure. Marco retired in 2004.
“It takes the students to make Whitman,” foreign language teacher Genevieve Maloney said. “But it takes a great environment and Marco really got it going in the right direction.”
The school will be collecting donations to the Jerome M. Marco Leadership Scholarship. Checks payable to Walt Whitman High school can be sent to 7100 Whittier Boulevard, Bethesda MD, 20817.