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Obituary of Pilar Munday
Dr. Pilar Munday, an innovative educator, devoted wife, and beloved mother, passed away peacefully on November 12th. She was 55.
Born on June 24th, 1964 in Granada, Spain, Pilar was a long-time resident of Fairfield where she worked for over twenty-five years as a highly respected professor of Spanish at Sacred Heart University and, together with her much-loved husband Shawn, raised their two sons, John and Mark.
Pilar earned a Ph.D. in Linguistics from New York University and taught at Williams College in Massachusetts prior to joining the faculty at Sacred Heart where she was known as a generous colleague, a dedicated teacher, and an inspiring mentor to many. During her illustrious academic career, Pilar pioneered curriculum development in both foreign language teaching and educational technology. She was the recipient of numerous awards for teaching excellence, creativity, and digital innovation and was the first faculty member to receive the University's prestigious "Excellence in Digital Pedagogies Award" in recognition of her many contributions to integrating technology into the classroom.
In addition, Pilar gained international recognition for her development of the "InstagramEle" project, a tool that allows students and educators from around the world to share monthly Spanish vocabulary words through images posted on the social media site. Thousands of students and educators have incorporated the tool into their teaching and learning. As a result of this project, Pilar received first prize for an innovative teaching practice from the Polytechnic University of Madrid. She was highly regarded for her use of social media, blogging, podcasts, and videos to engage her students with content, one another, and the greater international community.
Pilar was a presenter at dozens of conferences on language and digital pedagogy and published extensively on the use of technology in Spanish language learning as well as in her field of Linguistics. She authored two books: Spanish Without the Fuss (Random House, 2007) and 2000+ Essential Spanish Verbs (with co-authors, Steven McGroarty and Marcel Danesi; Living Language, 2003). Always an inspiring teacher, Pilar's students' own work was recently published in an Open-Source anthology of Spanish Literature. She was most proud of supporting her students' scholarly successes.
Pilar's contributions extended beyond her excellence and dedication in the classroom. She was a passionate supporter of service to the wider community, taking her students to volunteer in nearby school districts, elderly day care centers, hospitals, and in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity projects and the Brazilian Immigration Center. Her heart was always at the forefront of her work. She was a much-loved advisor and supporter of the student club "La Hispanidad" which promotes Hispanic culture and experiences on campus. She was the founder of Sacred Heart's study abroad program in Granada, Spain, and remained a strong advocate of global awareness and diversity at the University.
Beyond her extraordinary career in academia and a dedication to life-long learning, Pilar loved traveling with her family to places as near as Chinatown at Christmas and as far afield as Spain and Sweden and Vancouver. It would be hard to find anyone who could offer a book suggestion as well as Pilar, as she was a veracious reader as well as a devoted listener to NPR and interesting podcasts covering the wide range of her many interests. She loved to sit quietly and knit, a cup of herbal tea or green smoothie in her hand, with her sweet cat Sunny lounging nearby. Long walks along the sea, or through a nearby woodland path, were frequent special moments shared with Shawn and her boys.
Everyone who was blessed to know Pilar remembers a loyal friend who some called "mi hermana," (my sister) for her open-hearted way of drawing her circle close as family, sharing scarves, jewelry, tea mugs, stones, cards, the gift of her time, and always encouragement to live one's life to the fullest as she did. She often instructed "be here now," and she always was.
The essence of Dr. Pilar Munday can best be described as a gentle yet formidable force of goodness and generosity, a quiet elegance, a pillar of integrity.
In addition to her husband, himself an educator of Spanish at Tomlinson Middle School in Fairfield, and her two sons, Pilar is survived in Spain by her beloved mother Enriqueta Carrillo de Albornoz Fábregas, her devoted sister Enriqueta Jiménez Carrillo de Albornoz, her niece Pilar Sanchez Jiménez, her brother Obdulio Jiménez Carrillo de Albornoz and his wife Mari Carmen Cejudo Serrano, and her nieces Carmen Jiménez Cejudo and Laura Jiménez Cejudo. Pilar was pre-deceased by her dear father, Obdulio Jiménez Olmedo.
Calling hours will be held on Saturday from 2 to 6 PM in the Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road, in Fairfield center. Her Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Sunday at 2 PM in the Sacred Heart University Chapel. She will be interred in Spain.
Her family was always the center of Pilar's well-lived and meaningful life. At their request, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to St. Vincent's Hospital "Swim Across the Sound" or to Sacred Heart University with a note stating the donation is to support "La Hispanidad."
To read her complete obituary, for travel directions, or to sign her guest register, please visit www.LeskoPolkeFuneralHome.com