SPARTANBURG — Was Bernie Paluszak surprised when fellow St. Paul the Apostle parishioner Anne Marable was selected as the Catholic Woman of the Year?
“Heavens, no,” Paluszak said. “She does everything, and once she retired she just did more.”
Marable is self-effacing and sweetly disposed, but even she can’t deny the enormous résumé of volunteer work that Anita M. Geigley put together in Marable’s winning nomination for the S.C. Council of Catholic Women honor. Geigley is the president of the St. Paul’s Women’s Club and another in a long line of Anne Marable fans. She unwittingly repeated Paluszak’s refrain: “Anne does everything.”
Perhaps there is no other way to aptly describe a list of volunteerism that takes up three typed pages.
“I’m a widow, I live alone and I have time,” Marable admitted. “I enjoy doing these things.’
The thing she enjoyed doing when The Miscellany caught up with her on April 15 was preparing and serving food at the Second Presbyterian Soup Kitchen across Church Street from Wofford College. When she finished her regular weekly 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift, she had to leave immediately to volunteer at the front desk of the local Cancer Association, where she serves on the board of directors and is involved in fund-raisers all year long.
“They’re little short-handed today,” the Woman of the Year said.
Her other civic duties include serving as treasurer and poll worker for the Republican Women’s Club. She is a member of the American Legion, and works one day each week at the Spartanburg County Public Library.
Marable came to Spartanburg with her husband’s job in 1967, raised two sons and retired from the county assessor’s office 10 years ago. Both her husband and her elder son’s wife recently died of cancer, leaving a widow, a widower and one little boy, her son Bill’s child David, adopted from El Salvador.
Characteristically, Anne Marable has taken a motherly role in young David’s life. She also helps out at Our Lady of the Rosary School where David is a second-grader.
“She is that wonderful extra influence,” Geigley said.
Marable is also an influence in her parish. Her pastor, Father Michael R. DeAntonio, presented her with a bouquet of pink roses following the 10 a.m. Palm Sunday liturgy, saying that her honor is also an honor for the parish. She is the community commission chair for the parish women’s club, serves on the finance and building committee and on the bereavement committee.
Marable is a regular communicant and, despite her active volunteer calendar, does not neglect her spiritual life. She is a member of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Circle at St. Paul and the parish prayer group, and she is a secular Franciscan. In fact, she went on a day of retreat with other Franciscans on April 17.
One might wonder when she finds time to go off on retreat. Bishop Robert J. Baker asked her at the annual convention of the SCCCW: “When do you find the time to eat?”
It’s not as if Anne Marable’s volunteer work is just a matter of showing up. Lou Lander, director of the soup kitchen where she works every Thursday, said that cooking and serving the poor and the homeless is a ministry.
“It takes people with a passion to do this, and Anne has that passion,” Lander said.
Bill Dickerson is a Baptist who has known Marable for the six years that they have both been volunteering at the soup kitchen. His admiration for her goes beyond her efforts there.
“It’s not just this that she does, it’s all the other things people need. Nothing is ever too difficult for her,” Dickerson said. “We all appreciate Anne.”
That appreciative audience probably includes God, Anne agreed, although she derives so much pleasure from helping people that she does not consider her busy life a sacrifice. Anne Marable is 73, looks 10 years younger and is apparently thriving on her work. She has been active in the SCCCW for two decades and is admired by other members, said Geigley, because of her “selfless giving.”
Yet Anne Marable said that she was surprised to be named Catholic Woman of the Year for 2004. Nobody else who knows her was surprised.