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Obituary: Mary (Ryan) Seagrave

Mary (Ryan) Seagrave, a longtime Darien resident and community leader who served on the Board of Education and headed the Darien United Way, died peacefully Mar. 1 in Santa Fe, N.M. She was 95.

Born May 19, 1917, in Newton, Mass., she was the eldest of five children of Mary and George Ryan, a daily newspaper editor and columnist in Boston.

She graduated from Swarthmore College in 1938, and worked for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where she met her husband and life partner, Norman. They married in Geneva, Switzerland, and lived in Montreal and Rome before settling in Darien in 1954.

A faithful friend and devoted mother to four daughters, Anne, Molly, Jane and Martha, Mrs. Seagrave was a woman of exceptional intelligence and wit whose interests ranged far beyond the home. She was an excellent tennis player, an avid reader, loved theater and the arts, traveled extensively and worked in ways large and small to make the world a better place.

She was active in the Democratic party, an early civil rights activist and a strong advocate for women’s equality. While her children were young, she was involved in a variety of volunteer community activities, including serving for many years as secretary of the Darien Board of Education. She worked briefly as a nursery school teacher before becoming executive director of Darien United Way, a job she held for a decade starting in the early Seventies.

She was never happier than when she could be on Cliff Island, Maine, where she spent part of every summer from childhood until her death. In 1992, she and her husband moved to Brunswick, Maine, where they lived until 2011, when they went to Santa Fe to live with their eldest daughter, Anne, and her husband, Reese Fullerton.

Blessed with good health and widely respected for their compassion and judgment well into their 90s, Mr. and Mrs. Seagrave were cherished friends and were regarded as second parents to many, often sought out for advice and counsel.

In Santa Fe, Mrs. Seagrave continued to make new friends, discover community organizations, attend musical events and learn about the history and cultures of her new home. She embraced life fully until the end.

In addition to her husband of 64 years, Mrs. Seagrave is survived by her sister, Nancy Benoit, and her husband, Andre, of Falmouth, ME; four daughters and their husbands, Anne and Reese Fullerton of Santa Fe, NM, Molly and Walter Channing of Bridgehampton, NY, Jane Seagrave and John Kennedy of Martha’s Vineyard, MA, Martha Seagrave and Kurt Kaffenberger of Burlington, VT; 10 grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

— By the Family

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