Who was Graciela Wilborn?

Written by Karen Rosby, formerly of Grand Forks Publich Schools:

Who was Graciela Wilborn? Many of you knew Graciela very well, some of you met her at FLAND sessions and became professional acquaintances, and quite a few of you had the good fortune to be her students. There may be many new FLAND members, however, who don't know who she was or why our organization has honored her by naming our annual teaching award for her. In 1991, I nominated Graciela for a national award --the Central States Founders Award. I was limited to ten pages! When Dr. Clifford, then President of UND, handed me her monstrous file, I knew that the biggest challenge would be to try to condense the accomplishments of this incredible human being onto only ten typed pages. In this space, I have tried to reduce that ten pages to several paragraphs.

Graciela Wilborn received her Bachelor of Arts from the National University in Mexico City. She completed her Master of Arts at Middlebury School of Languages, Vermont, after study in Madrid. Her teaching experience included St. Mary's Elementary in Grand Forks, Williston High School, and every level and type of course at the University of North Dakota In Grand Forks. If there was anything happening in Spanish, from elementary school to the ND high school Spanish conventions, Graciela was there to lend her leadership, expertise, and hard work. She contributed to countless publications, was a presenter both locally, state-wide, and nationally. She served in every leadership position imaginable within FLAND, FLARR, AATSP, and many committees and positions on campus relating to international studies and language. Her involvement was phenomenal and it built a rapport within the UND power structure which enhanced the advancement of language study not only at UND, but ultimately, within the state as a whole. Graciela's compassionate interest in people was evident in her volunteerism. She translated for the courts, taught catechism to migrant workers, worked with the Special Olympics, and was never too busy to visit the elderly of her parish. She was, as her name so aptly states, a woman of amazing "grace".

Written in the FLAND News in memory of Graciela

Mickey Mouse ears and making snow angels are not usually a part of a funeral service, but for those of us privileged to know and love Graciela Wilborn they seem most appropriate; certainly the last word anyone would ever use to describe Graciela was "usual." Her enthusiasm for life and her love of everyone and everything were contagious. Everyone who met her remembered her, and more remarkably, she remembered them. It was impossible to leave Graciela without squaring your shoulders and smiling. She singlehandedly changed Spanish teaching and teachers in the state of North Dakota (and elsewhere) by showing us our strengths, gently helping us to overcome our weaknesses, and encouraging us every step of the way. She shared both her love for her chosen profession and the extraordinary skills she had for pursuing it.

Graciela was past-president of FLAND and the North Dakota AATSP. She was the 1992 recipient of the FLAND Teacher of the Year Award. In recognition of her tremendous contributions to the profession, the members of FLAND have named that award in her honor.

Graciela was born in México, D.F., the daughter of Ángel de la Garza Brito and Consuelo de la Garza Becerril. She attended la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico and Middlebury (Vt.) College. She lived in Fort Worth, Texas and Williston, N.D. before moving to Grand Forks in 1959. She is survived by her son, John, Phoenix; her daughters, Chris, Minneapolis and Tracy, Grand Forks; her brother, Ángel; and her half sisters, Maria and Alicia de la Garza Castillo, all México, D.F. She will be greatly missed.

reprinted from FLAND News, FLAND News 1992 Fall

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