BLUE HILL – Mary Chase died on Tuesday, February 16, 2016, at the Island Nursing Home in Deer Isle, Maine. She was 94. She was born Mary Elizabeth Anderson, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Swedish-American parents. Her father was a dentist, her mother a nurse and professional singer. Her family moved to China when she was still an infant, where her father was a doctor at Peking Union Medical Center in Beijing.
She attended school there through the age of 8, and memories of the family’s time in Beijing in the twenties remained strong for her all her life. She was carried to school in a rickshaw. Her father went first to Columbia University where Mary went to Horace Mann School; and then to Yale, where she went to Prospect Hill School. She grew up in Stony Creek, Connecticut. Twice her mother took her and her brother Sven to Sweden to live among relatives there, and Mary attended schools there. She grew up speaking Swedish and English and not a little Chinese.
In 1936 at the age of 15, Mary was accepted to Radcliffe College. There she met Dick Chase, in the Harvard – Radcliffe Choral Society, and she left Radcliffe at the age of 19 to marry him, in 1940.
Mary Anderson was an accomplished and trained artist and was embarked on a career in fashion design when the first of seven children diverted her into a career as a mother and homemaker. The family sat down to breakfast, lunch and dinner, cooked by herself, and between the dogs, cats, canaries, Christmases, music, friends, neighborhood children and relations, the sprawling farmhouse in then rural Wilton, Connecticut, was a joyful container of domestic pleasures, all due to her quiet, accomplished, understated doing. It was a life’s work. Her husband’s beaming love and respect for her never altered, in spite of her lifelong aversion to the sea! And we know now how lucky we were to be surrounded by that harmony all our lives, and to share that, as the glue that holds this family together.
When all the children had flown Mary returned to and pursued a passion for design. She learned to weave and returned to Sweden to study all the facets of weaving at Saterglantan in Dalarna. The domestic arts are held in high regard in Sweden and taught as the tradition of “hemslojd” or home skills, or craft. She opened a weaving studio and gift shop in Russell Condon’s store in Brooksville, Maine, where she taught many many weavers, and revived the production and processing of flax into linen. There she produced her signature textiles, so rich in color and pattern. This period of time was Mary’s creative homecoming, her own passion. Mary and Dick were quiet community builders. They were founding members of the Bagaduce Chorale and were among the first residents of the Parker Ridge Retirement Community.
Mary’s husband Epes Dixwell Chase died in 2008. She is survived by 6 of her seven children: Carl Chase and his wife Susan, Arria Bilodeau and her husband Harrison, Eric Chase and his wife Alison, Lisa Chase, Josie Chase and Andy Chase and his wife Lauren Sahl. Peter left us a year ago in March. His wife is Sophie Spurr. Mary was rich in offspring: 18 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. The family wishes to acknowledge the wonderful care Mary received at the Parker Ridge Retirement Community and at the Island Nursing Home, where she spent a comfortable final year.
A memorial service will be held at the Blue Hill Congregational Church on Saturday, February 27th, at 2:00 PM, followed by a reception at Barncastle. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Island Nursing Home, Deer Isle, Maine.