RUMFORD – A former Rumford woman who created dazzling gowns for Marilyn Monroe, Greer Garson and first lady Pat Nixon died Wednesday at the Victorian Villa in Canton.

Mildred Sechak also sewed beaded gowns worn by Lady Byrd Johnson and her daughters, Linda and Lucy, as well as some of their friends.

Some of those gowns hang in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Sechak also created beaded and sequined wearable works of art for people living in her adopted hometown, including patients at Rumford Hospital, the local nursing home, and her friends.

Stephen Sechak said his 88-year-old grandmother had many talents, including cooking. He remembers the aroma of stuffed cabbage cooking in her kitchen when he lived with her and his grandfather, Stephen Sechak, in Rumford nearly 30 years ago while attending grades six through nine. It was the best, he said this week by telephone from his home in Albany, Calif.

Many of her special dishes were Ukrainian and Slovakian, and she also made lots of sweets, he said.

“I loved it at grandma’s house,” 42-year-old Stephen said.

Sechak and her husband moved to Rumford from New York in 1977 to be near a son who was with a band in Lewiston. Her husband and son died within three months of each other in 1994.

Longtime friend Alfreda Bernard of Rumford said she met Sechak soon after she moved to Rumford when they were both working at the Madison Inn and restaurant. Waitressing wasn’t for Sechak, Bernard said.

“She was a smart woman, just lovely and very knowledgeable and sensible. She was wonderful with children and I enjoyed her company so much.”

She remembers “Millie’s” friendship as one that didn’t need words.

“We didn’t have to do much talking. We had a close friendship,” she said.

When Sechak’s husband and son died and were buried at the same time, Bernard said she was with her friend.

“She came by my home and we went to the burial together,” Bernard said.

She said Sechak used her sewing skills to make costumes for area children, and her cooking talent to make great food for events happening at the American Legion and VFW.

“I remember a wonderful spumoni cake with cream cheese frosting,” Bernard said.

Until her illness, Sechak was active in many community activities, including serving on the Rumford Planning Board, Rumford Historical Society, Literacy Volunteers, Veterans of Foreign Wars auxiliary, and many other organizations.

Her grandson said she ran bingo at the American Legion and took part in lots of clubs.

Myrtle McKenna, a longtime member of the historical society, remembered that Sechak always brought something special to eat for the luncheon held at the meetings.

“She was very devoted, but very quiet,” she said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Athanasius and St. John Catholic Church of the Holy Savior Parish at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11. Sechak leaves her grandson, two granddaughters and a brother-in-law.

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