Nashua mourns loss of longtime local educator

NASHUA – Marilyn R. Wolfe Matuza Viens, a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher and an active member in the community, passed away after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Viens, or better known by students as Mrs. Matuza, was a longtime seventh grade English teacher at Fairgrounds Middle School – 37 years to be exact – and in those 37 years, she touched the lives of many students.

“Anyone who had her can still recite every preposition,” said Tara Michaud, a former student, and now an English teacher at Manchester Memorial High School.

“She was one of those teachers you learned how much you got from her after the class was over because she was so hard, and I think people now can say she was one of the best teachers because she challenged students so much,” Michaud said.

The lesson Viens would be remembered for most was her grammar lesson, in which she would have her students diagram their sentences. This was a practice Michaud has now incorporated into her own English classes.

“It’s right around this of year that I always say, ‘I feel like I am channeling my inner Mrs. Matuza,’ when I am having my students diagram sentences. I didn’t realize how much it made us learn about grammar,” Michaud said.

Michaud said Viens was one of three teachers who inspired her to pursue the career she is in now. “She’s going to be really missed,” Michaud said.

Viens’ daughter, Mary Lee Horosewski, said one her fondest memories of her mother was the summers when they would sit out on the porch drinking lemonade and diagramming sentences.

“That was our idea of entertainment,” Horosewski said. Another strong memory Horosewski has is the way her mother used to drink her coffee.

“Mom was a big coffee drinker throughout life, and always drank very strong black coffee, no cream, no sugar,” Horosewski said. “For the last few years, she started to add honey or Splenda to her coffee, but for most of her life, it was just plain black and very, very strong. She joked that what she drank was ‘Jesus Coffee,’ and when people asked her what that meant, she explained that ‘It’s so thick, you can walk on it.’ I asked her once if she had heard that somewhere or if she had made it up herself, and she said that she had made it up.”

Horosewski said her mother enjoyed doing things her own way.

She described her mother as a very outgoing, driven, emotional person who wore her heart on her sleeve. “She didn’t care what you thought of her, she wanted to do things her own away and unfortunately her way was usually the best way,” Horosewski said.

Horosewski also described her mother as being honest to a “T.”

“She was absolutely honest to a fault. It was definitely a value she has instilled in me.”

Horosewski said her mother saw people as they were and appreciated them for who they were.

“They didn’t need to be something else to impress her,” Horosewski said. “And for me, she was proud of me for whatever decision I made. She taught me the lesson to be yourself.”

Outside of the classroom, Viens was a very active member in the community.

Her obituary states she served as the building representative for the Nashua Teachers’ Union for many years, advised the National Junior Honor Society and the National Spelling Bee for several years each, she served as a church organist, music director, and children’s and adult choir director/assistant director for St. Stanislaus Parish in Nashua and St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hudson and was an active member of the recovery community and the Nashua Choral Society.

Horosewski said her mother acquired lots of friends throughout life, different people from all walks of life. She inspired many.

“Many people have told me over the years that she ignited a love of reading that did not exist in them before,” Horosewski said.

Mrs. Matuza was a dedicated teacher. Horosewski said what was ironic was she didn’t plan to become an English teacher.

“It was basically the start of the baby boom and they had a shortage of teachers and they desperately needed people to teach. She wanted to teach music, but she was on a waiting list and eventually stayed with English.”

Cam McGurk got her own taste of Mrs. Matuza’s teaching style in the spring of 1968, when she was a senior at Rivier University and student taught in Mrs. Matuza’s seventh grade English class.

“I had no plans to be a teacher. My plan was to be the next great journalist, but Marilyn was so determined to make me an English teacher that I ended up being an English teacher,” McGurk said. McGurk was a teacher for many years and is now working as a speech language pathologist at Fairgrounds Middle School.

McGurk described Viens as a fierce intellect.

“She was very smart. She would talk about how smart girls need to be teachers.”

McGurk said she learned a lot from Mrs. Matuza.

“Marilyn was a great believer that no matter what level students operated at, you could expose them to great literature.

Viens will be missed by many, but the impressions she has left on the community will remain.

Grace Pecci can be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.