Obituary: Mary Townsend
Mary Townsend, 98, of New York City, a well-known figure in New York business for more than half a century, died Nov. 4, 2015, in Branford, CT. For much of the past two years Miss Townsend had been staying at the Gables at Guilford, CT, and before that was frequently at a family home in Darien, CT.
Mary Townsend was born Aug. 18, 1917, in Goshen, NY, the daughter of the late Chester and Maude Newell Townsend. She grew up in Circleville, NY, and attended high school there. After secretarial school, in 1935 she began work in New York City. Through an early position as secretary to Mr. Luke Stapledon, she became a confidante of other members of his family and that of his father-in-law James A. Farrell, former President of U.S. Steel. As a result, she also began many decades of association with the U.S. shipping, stevedoring, shipbuilding and steel industries and their global peers, including long tenures with the Jules S. Sottnek and Universal Terminal & Stevedoring firms in New York. Her wide circle of business acquaintances extended from financiers, ship captains, labor union heads, and politicians to longshoremen and countless individuals active in East Coast commerce. For three generations she was a familiar figure at industry conferences and celebrations, and as a notary public she obliged the business community of lower Manhattan and Wall Street. Miss Townsend spent the final two decades of her career as the Executive Secretary of the NYSA-ILA Contract Board, which oversees adherence to the contractual labor rules and issues in the Port of New York. She retired in 1990. Before and after that date she was an avid world traveler, still visiting Australia and New Zealand in her eighties, while equally enjoying her time with family and her many friends.
Miss Townsend was predeceased by her sisters and brother, Catherine (Mrs. John Kenneth) Johnston of Haworth, NJ; Philip Townsend (and his wife Claire) of Catonsville, MD, and Ardsley, NY; and Elizabeth (Mrs. Frederick) Johnsen of Darien. She was beloved Aunt Mary to her nephews and niece and their spouses, who survive her: Philip and Anne Townsend of Virginia Beach, VA; Linda and John Fox of Madison, CT; Bruce and Lorraine Townsend of Walden, NY; John and Christine Johnston of Butler, NJ; Curtis and Mary Johnston of Fort Mill, SC; William Johnsen of New York City; and Anne Eddy Powell of Shelton, CT. Her nephew Robert Johnsen of Darien and later Shelton predeceased her. She is also survived by 13 great-nephews and nieces, their spouses and children.
Funeral services will be private. The family requests that those hoping to mark a remembrance of Mary Townsend provide a contribution to the Make a Wish Foundation.