Teacher gives something back to the system


Retired in June after 42 years in the Baltimore County school system, Marian Capozzi Drach has no complaints.

She isn't bitter about school pay, or angry about donated time and materials, or feeling used for her desire to help children learn. In fact, she says, she's grateful to have had the chance to work all that time at something she liked.

That's why she's spending all of her retirement incentive money -- and then some -- to have a life-size bronze statue of a woman and a child sharing a book installed on the old courthouse lawn in Towson. And that's why she's also paying for an invitation-only champagne reception Sunday to unveil the work.

At a time when the public is angry about government spending and rising taxes, and government workers are angry over delayed pay raises and furloughs, Ms. Drach is the exception -- although she said she can understand the frustrations of other school employees who have families to support

"I wanted to give back something to the county," the soft-spoken former supervisor of school library and media services said of her gift. "I have thoroughly enjoyed working here."

And she added, "I'm doing this out of love and respect for my parents."

At first she thought about having the statue placed at school board headquarters on North Charles Street, but she finally settled on the courthouse grounds in Towson because more people would see it there.

When people view the sculpture, Ms. Drach said, she wants them to see "the bonding of adults with children. The art of reading is one of the finest you can develop."

The idea for the sculpture came piecemeal as she pondered her retirement.

There were the obligatory thoughts of round-the-world trips. "But I thought I'd never be able to remember one country from the next," she said.

She knew she wanted to do something for the county, and then heard at a party that Riderwood Elementary was to have a fiberglass statue of a woman and child reading installed there. She expressed interest and the sculptor, Susan Luery, contacted her. They decided to make another, bronze piece. The fiberglass version will be installed at Riderwood Nov. 11, Ms. Luery said.

County Executive Roger B. Hayden is to officiate at Sunday's Towson unveiling, and 210 people have been invited. "It just grew and grew and grew," a slightly anxious Ms. Drach said Monday as she discussed the reception with her caterer, Ms. Luery and county public works and recreation officials.

County workers poured a concrete base for the 500-pound statue, and then built a pedestal for it out of limestone left over from the courthouse portico restoration in 1990.

Don German, the county recreation and parks official working with Ms. Drach, said nothing as valuable as the statue has been donated to the county parks before.

Through its Patrons of the Parks program, the county has accepted gifts of trees, flowers, machinery and cash gifts totaling $19,000 in the last several years.

"We're really happy," he said of Ms. Drach's donation. "It's a great thing she's doing for the county."

Ms. Luery first sculpted the piece from clay, a four- to five-month process.

Then a plaster mold was made from the clay, into which wax was poured to make a wax example of the statue.

After touching-up, the wax was encased in heated foundry sand, and a new, harder, ceramic mold was made.

The hot bronze was poured into that mold at the New Art Foundry in Hampden. The whole process took a year, Ms. Luery said.

Ms. Drach said the statue, called "The Passage," is dedicated to the memory of her parents, the late Daniel and Frances Capozzi.

Donating the statue, Ms. Drach said, "gives me a very peaceful feeling. I feel good about what I'm doing. Many people will get to enjoy it for many, many years."

After starting her career as a teacher at Edgemere Elementary, Ms. Drach became a librarian. She was supervisor of county school library services from 1966 until her retirement at 65 in June.

She took advantage of a retirement incentive program the county offered last year to try to reduce its payroll.

Although retired, Ms. Drach has kept busy, volunteering to help at the Hereford High library, reading to children in schools and helping with various Towson based civic events.

Her chief worry now is Sunday afternoon's weather for her own Towson civic event.

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