Jean Walsh, a senior executive secretary at Fordham’s Walsh Library with deep family ties to the University, died on Feb. 9 at Vassar Brothers Medical Center after a long illness. She was 73.

Walsh worked for more than two decades at the library’s electronic information center, where she had many responsibilities, including scheduling and supervising student workers. She also maintained an encyclopedic knowledge of the library’s spaces and their respective schedules.

“She knew the geography of the building perhaps better than anybody,” said Linda Loschiavo, director of University Libraries. “She seemed to know every member of the University administration, every dean, every chair. She knew every name that popped up.”

When a flood on the library’s lower level caused the staff to temporarily relocate in 2021, Loschiavo spent the year sharing her office with Walsh. She described the experience as “the silver lining” of a difficult time for the library staff.

“Jean was one of the kindest individuals I’ve ever met,” Loschiavo said.

Walsh’s daughter Jeannette Ginther also reflected on her mom’s giving nature.

“She was just so caring and so selfless,” she said. “She really put everybody in her life before herself.”

Walsh was born in the Bronx to Victor and Lucy Spaccarelli. She owned Jean’s Hallmark Shop in the Galleria at White Plains for more than 10 years before joining the staff at the William D. Walsh Library on the Rose Hill campus, where she worked for 21 years.

Walsh’s connections to Fordham began with her father, Victor, a master bricklayer and stonemason who did extensive work on the Rose Hill campus, including building the very library where his daughter worked.

“He had a hand on a stone of every building of the Rose Hill campus,” her son, Thomas Walsh Jr., FCRH ’07, said of his late grandfather.

Her brothers Victor Jr. and John Spaccarelli, the current director of special projects and facilities at Fordham; her husband Thomas Walsh; and son Thomas Jr. have been decade-long employees of Fordham in various fields, including facilities and project management.

Jean Walsh poses with her family
Jean Walsh, pictured at Fordham’s Convocation ceremony with her brother, John Spaccarelli, a Fordham employee for 30 years, and members of their family.

“Between Victor Sr., his son, John, and myself, we have worked on every building on all three campuses,” said Thomas Walsh, adding that the family history was a great source of Jean’s pride in being a Fordham employee.

“My mom’s first priority was always her family,” Ginther said. “She also treated her employees and her coworkers like family.”

Walsh’s passion was cooking—a love that she shared with friends and family alike by hosting big holiday dinners and frequently bringing baked goods for her student workers and colleagues at the library to enjoy.

But Walsh’s greatest joy was watching her grandchildren, Richie, Justin, and Natasha, grow up. Walsh was a constant presence in their lives and spoke of them so often that fellow Fordham staff members felt they knew them personally.

“At her wake and her funeral, there were so many Fordham colleagues that came,” said Kristina Karnovsky, Walsh’s youngest daughter. “When they had a chance to meet my children and my sister’s children, it was like they already knew them because she spoke of them so often and had their pictures at her desk. ”

A funeral Mass was held at St. Columba Church in Hopewell Junction on Feb 12. Donations in her memory can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“You remember people, I think, for how they made you feel,” Karnovsky said of the impact her mother had. “And she made everyone feel so loved.”