Obituary: Remembering Margaret Shadick Cyert-Carnegie Mellon News - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Obituary: Remembering Margaret Shadick Cyert

Margaret CyertMargaret Shadick Cyert, a loving wife, mother, grandmother and former matriarch of Carnegie Mellon University, died peacefully with her family and loving staff of Longwood at Oakmont by her side on Wednesday, April 9. She was 89.

The Carnegie Mellon flag will be flown at half-staff in her memory on Thursday, April 10.

Margaret and her late husband, Richard M. Cyert, were a vital part of the Carnegie Mellon community for more than 50 years. Margaret, Richard and their daughter, Lynn, arrived at what was then the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1948 from Columbia University. Richard joined the faculty and a love affair between the Cyerts and the university bloomed and blossomed through the century.   

Richard became president of Carnegie Mellon in 1972 and led the university to national prominence in education and research. Through his 18 years as president Margaret "shared the demands of his office," wrote Carnegie Mellon Professor Emeritus Edwin Fenton in "Carnegie Mellon, 1900-2000: A Centennial History."

Margaret, who earned a bachelor's degree in home economics at the University of Minnesota, offered compassion, fellowship and a motherly-touch to students, faculty and staff.  It was customary to see her comforting anxious parents on freshman move-in day or hosting events to welcome new faculty, administrators and students to the Carnegie Mellon family.

"She was present at hundreds of meetings, entertained with grace and charm and even established 'Margaret's Muffins' — free coffee and food on the steps of Doherty Hall during examination periods," Fenton wrote.  

On the first day of spring each year, Margaret was known to purchase bundles of daffodils to benefit the American Cancer Society and distribute them to staff to brighten their day and lift their spirits.
Margaret's passion for Carnegie Mellon led her to be named an honorary alumna and a recipient of an Andrew Carnegie Society Award for her dedication and leadership.

Margaret also cared deeply about her own family as well as the children of Pittsburgh. She earned a master's degree in child development at the University of Pittsburgh in 1982 and worked closely with many area organizations interested in early childhood education.

Among those organizations was the Carnegie Mellon Child Care Center. She supported the center personally and financially, and in 1998 the school recognized her contributions to the school and Pittsburgh community by changing its name to the Margaret Shadick Cyert Center for Early Education and Program for Collaborative Learning.

Margaret also was an ardent advocate for the Carnegie Mellon library. She served as a founding member of the Library Development Board and worked to raise funds for the library's fundraising campaign.

Margaret, who enjoyed the last 14 years at the loving Longwood at Oakmont retirement community, is survived by three daughters: Lynn Cyert of Tahlequah, Okla.; Lucinda Steffes of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Martha Cyert of Palo Alto, Calif.; three grandsons: Michael Steffes, Jacob Simon and Max Simon; sister Evelyn March; and sisters-in-law Charlotte Wilson and Constance Conradi.

The family gives special thanks to the staff at Longwood at Oakmont, who treated her like family, and to Margaret's very special friend Linda Benish.

Plans for a memorial service have not yet been determined.

Donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 1100 Liberty Avenue, Suite E-201, Pittsburgh, PA  15222.

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Margaret Shadick Cyert (pictured above), a loving wife, mother, grandmother and former matriarch of Carnegie Mellon University, died peacefully with her family and loving staff of Longwood at Oakmont by her side on Wednesday, April 9. She was 89.