Gregory John Shesko, long time member of the Archives Advisory Committee, and the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America, fell asleep in the Lord on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, exactly one month shy of his 77th birthday.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, to Alexandria (Maskewich) and John Shesko, he lived most of his life in Needham, MA. After attending Brooklyn Technical High School in 1961, Gregory received a B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1965 and an M.A. in History from Harvard in 1966. He conducted doctoral research in Moscow during 1970-1971 on monasterial landholding in Muscovite Russia. Although he never taught, he devoted his professional life to academia. Gregory worked at Brandeis University for almost thirty years, serving as Associate Dean for Arts and Sciences and then Assistant Provost for Academic Finance and Administration.
A lifelong member of the Orthodox Church, Gregory served in the altar from a young age. He and his wife, Marilyn, supported each other in their faith throughout their fifty-two-years of marriage, and his faith sustained him through his long illness. Gregory was parish council president for the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church, Chelsea, MA, from 1977 until its closure in 2014. He and Marilyn then joined the parish community of Holy Annunciation, Maynard, MA.
Gregory was awarded the Order of Saint Innocent for his service to the Orthodox Church in America, which included terms on The Metropolitan Council, the Pension Board, work on the Archives Advisory Committee, numerous terms on the New England Diocesan Council, and active participation in every All-American Council meeting from 1977 to 2015.
Gregory devoted a significant portion of his life to libraries. He held leadership roles in the Friends of the Needham Public Library since 1991, vastly expanding the book sale for which he lovingly sorted donations almost every day. He was elected nine times to the Board of Library Trustees. One of his proudest accomplishments was co-chairing the campaign for a successful override to fund a major renovation of the Needham Library and his membership on the town committee that oversaw the project, which was completed in 2006. Appointed by the governor to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners from 2009-2019, Greg helped libraries around the state, serving terms as secretary and then president.
Gregory leaves behind several hundred thousand photographs that he took over the years, which brought him and many others great joy. He shared his love of the theater with many and always had a book that he “thought that you might like.” In addition to books, he built an extensive collection of old portrait prints. He loved Needham and served as an elected town meeting member from 1987 to 2020. In meeting someone new, Gregory always found a way to connect through place, books, politics, or the arts. His many close friends and family will miss him dearly.
He is survived by his wife Marilyn (Markovich); his daughter Liz (Adam Wallace) and two grandchildren, Rebecca and Grant of Beverly Hills, MI; his sister Valerie of Wyoming, OH, and his niece Alexandra (Jake Merk) of Charleston, SC.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in his memory to Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church, P.O. Box 604, Maynard, MA, 01754; Mass General Cancer Center, or Friends of the Needham Public Library.
May Gregory’s memory be eternal!