Florida Tech recently lost two long-time dedicated employees: Judy Brooke and Rosary Pedreira.
Brooke started her career at Florida Tech 15 years ago and worked as the director of International Student and Scholar Services.
Family, friends and members of the Florida Tech community attended Brooke’s memorial service, held on Oct. 19 at the All Faiths Center.
Brooke was born in South Africa, then moved to London as a young adult and as mentioned in her remembrance in the All Faiths Center, “Somehow ended up in the United States.”
Her favorite song was played on the piano in her honor, and a slideshow of pictures of her greeted guests as they entered the chapel.
Candles lit the chapel, and red, orange and yellow flowers colored the room. A photo of Brooke sat in front of the podium.
Brooke battled cancer and underwent three years of treatment.
She passed away in her home on Saturday, Oct. 12, surrounded by family. Mike Neeland, the campus chaplain, spoke at the service.
He described Brooke as a caring and strong-willed wife, mother and friend to all who came through her office during her time at Florida Tech.
He recounted the family’s memories of her, recalling her passion for cooking and playful ways of retaliating when cereal boxes were left opened and she would pour the loose cereal on the culprits’ beds. Lareyne Ellebracht, the immigration advisor at ISSS, described Brooke as being warm and welcoming to international students.
“Judy was sympathetic toward our international students and the struggles they oftentimes faced in the United States,” Ellebracht said. “She would often go above and beyond to help them.”
Deborah Matta, the manager of international student programs, said from the moment she met Brooke, she felt Brooke’s care for her coworkers.
Matta said she knew she wanted to work in Brooke’s department and that six years later, Brooke interviewed and hired her to work in ISSS.
Matta said that while many students didn’t get the opportunity to meet Brooke, she wants them to remember her.
“I do want them to know that her legacy lives on in the International Festival and the International Coffee Hours,” Matta said. “These were both events that Judy created. She wanted to increase activities that would promote relationships between people of different cultures at Florida Tech.”
Rosary Pedreira served Florida Tech for more than 30 years and left a lasting impression on her Florida Tech family.
On Oct. 19, the All Faiths Center held an intimate remembrance for Pedreira with food and drinks.
Jackie Saunders, who worked alongside Pedreira in the mailroom, remembers how kind Pedreira was.
“She bent backwards to help people,” Saunders said. “She’ll give you the shirt off her back if she can. She won’t give you cash, but she’ll give you her shirt.”
Shawn Hughes, who was Pedreira’s boss in the mailroom, recalls Pedreira as his “abuela” with her infectious smile.
“Imagine having your grandmother with you all the time,” Hughes said. “That’s what it felt like.”
One story about Pedreira that stays with Hughes is from when Pedreira had just begun working in the mailroom.
Holmes Regional Medical Center contacted her, as they were looking for someone who was bilingual.
According to Hughes, the hospital offered Pedreira a substantial amount more than what she was making working in the mailroom.
When Pedreira went to resign, it was the week before her birthday.
“When she went into the copy center to give her resignation, the current manager at that time brought her a cake and bought her a briefcase,” Hughes said. “She was so heartfelt and struck by that she couldn’t go anywhere.”
Both women will be remembered by their Florida Tech community.
For Brooke and the events she created, Matta said, “As long as I’m in my position, I will try to make these events successful in memory of her.” Hughes simply stated in remembrance of Pedreira, “We miss her a lot.”