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SANTA FE. N.M. -- Mary (Ryan) Seagrave, who spent summers on Cliff Island, Maine before retiring to Brunswick with her husband in 1992, died peacefully Mar. 1, 2013 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, Conn., in 1954.
A faithful friend and devoted mother to four daughters, 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 where she spent part of every summer from childhood until her death. In 1992, she and her husband retired to Thornton Oaks in Brunswick where they lived until 2011, when they moved to Santa Fe to live with their oldest daughter and her husband.
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; four daughters and their husbands, Anne and Reese Fullerton of Santa Fe, N.M., Molly and Walter Channing of Bridgehampton, N.Y., Jane Seagrave and John Kennedy of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., Martha Seagrave and Kurt Kaffenberger of Burlington, Vt.; 10 grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
There will be memorial gatherings in Mrs. Seagrave's honor at Kingston Residence of Santa Fe on Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m. and at Thornton Oaks in Brunswick, Maine on Friday, March 29 at 4 p.m.
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on March 8, 2013