Maria Luciano Hernandez Sweet was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She passed away on May 16, 2022. Maria was a dedicated mentor and community leader in education; social and economic justice; fair elections in Centre, Juniata, Mifflin and Clinton Counties; and Latino leadership throughout central and eastern PA.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1936, Maria was the daughter of Oscar Luciano Gago and Maria A. Hernandez. She graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas School and earned degrees from the University of Puerto Rico, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, and Boston University. She also completed PhD coursework at Penn State University.
Maria sustained a successful and impactful career that included teaching in Juniata and Perry Counties, overseeing policy development for PA Gov. Richard Thornburgh, and policy analysis and development at Penn State. She was a tenured associate professor in the Department of Academic Development and Counseling at Lock Haven University.
In March 2022, Maria received the Trailblazer Award from the Penn Ag Democrats. The award honors a builder of bridges between communities of Democrats. Throughout her career in politics and higher education, she worked to advance the interests of Latinos in Pennsylvania by creating community. Her kindness has benefitted innumerable causes.
Maria was married to the late Edward B. Beward and formerly to Ario Lester Sweet. Surviving are five children: Edward Beward and his wife Tammy, of Flinton; Louise Hoppes and her husband Kevin of Portland, Ore.; Margaret Lee and her husband Robert of Schwenksville; Teresa Beward and her husband, John Swett of Dunedin, Fla.; and Jonathan Sweet of California. Maria also had 5 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.
Other survivors are a brother, Oscar Luciano Hernandez and his wife, Josefina Marrero Sanabria; and a sister, Carlota Luciano Hernandez, and her husband, Javier Asencio, all residing in Florida. Also, Maria will be greatly missed by her 10 nephews and nieces, and their children.
Memorial service will be at 9 a.m., on Friday, June 10, 2022 at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, 820 Westerly Parkway, State College, with Father George Jakopac officiating.
Memorial contributions can be made to: Juniata County Library, 498 Jefferson St. Mifflintown, PA 17059.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home in State College. Online condolences may be made at www.kochfuneralhome.com