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Mary Elizabeth (Brown) Monaco

SHARON — Mary Elizabeth (Brown) Monaco, 94, of Wellington, Fla., and Sharon, passed away peacefully on Feb. 7, 2019, in Wellington. 

Mary was born to the late Carlton Fiske Brown and Elizabeth Wade Kimball Brown of Marblehead, Mass., on Dec. 28, 1924 at Marblehead’s Mary Alley Hospital.

Mary grew up in Marblehead with her parents and older brother, the late Kimball Fiske Brown. The only two children in a generation, Mary and Kim received the undivided attention of their parents, grandparents and numerous aunts and uncles. During the school year, Mary spent free time playing the piano, roller skating, playing dolls with her friends, going to the beach and watching her grandmother bake. She spent summers at Camp Seesamaka, a girls’ camp in Maine, from the time she was 10 years old through her college years, as a counselor. In the woods and lakes of Maine, Mary developed her love of the outdoors, sports and painting.

Mary graduated from Nasson College in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She then began teaching history and home economics in Winchester, N.H. There Mary met her lifelong friend, Mackie Jones, with whom she shared years of fun, adventure and martinis. After several enjoyable years teaching, Mary moved back to Marblehead. Soon she was working as the head dietitian at Salem Hospital in Salem, Mass. Mary held that position until she married S. Vincent Monaco on June 15, 1952, at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Marblehead.

After her marriage to Sam, they moved to Essex Junction, Vt. Mary attended the University of Vermont to take post-graduate courses to feed her curious, sharp mind. The couple moved back to Marblehead in 1953 and started a family. Their son, Vincent James Monaco, was born that year and their daughter, Elizabeth Ann Wade Monaco McCarthy, in 1956. Mary loved being a mother — always active with her children’s schools, a housewife and a volunteer for the rest of her life.

When her husband’s company transferred the family to the Chicago area, Mary volunteered at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Deerfield, Ill., easily made friends, played golf and bridge and started painting again, which would become a lifelong source of enjoyment. Mary never quite adapted to the Chicago area’s flat landscape, always longing for New England, the ocean and mountains. In 1975, she and Sam returned to Marblehead.

Mary then went to “work” for her mother, Elizabeth Brown. in The Friendly and Wool-and- Work Shops, which sold all things sewing, knitting, needlepoint, embroidery, etc., in Marblehead. Mary always had enjoyed knitting and needlepoint, so her work was pleasure. After Mrs. Brown passed away in 1989, Mary “retired” to enjoy life. Mary also served as a board member of the Marblehead Female Humane Society, where her mother also was involved, for many years.

Mary and Sam began spending winters in Delray Beach, Fla., where they enjoyed the company of friends and family on the golf course or around a table with lively conversation. She always looked forward to her son’s and daughter-in-law’s annual winter visits. After Sam passed away in 2006, Mary joined her daughter, son-in-law and pets in Sharon for summers and falls, before returning to winter in Florida. 

Mary loved Sharon, the people, her new friends, the landscape and spending time with her “granddogters,” Mabel and Dixie, and Calvin the Cat. She even grew less wary of horses. Mary also then traveled, going to Europe, made annual pilgrimages to Marblehead, New Hampshire and the Cape, and visited New York for events, plays and concerts.

Some of Mary’s most stimulating times resulted from her volunteer work at the Sharon Historical Society. Mary learned more about the town of Sharon than many lifelong residents from doing research on projects directed by Liz Shapiro and Marge McAvoy. Mary so loved her days at the society that she donated her restored childhood doll house, made by her grandfather in 1929, to the collection. She and Liz realized its value as an example of life, play and imagination in the time before television, video and the internet.

The Sharon Country Club provided Mary with activities and friends. As her body weakened, Mary couldn’t play as much golf as she would have liked, but her putting never failed her. She would consistently sink the longest putts. Mary loved lunching and dining there for interesting conversations. Erik Rothman always made sure Mary had a good table.

Mary delighted in the company of friends, some made through her daughter and son-in-law, and others she made on her own: Mary Beth Higgins, Rob Fish, Barbara Parker, the late Roger Moore, Sharon Tingley, Lyman T. Whitehead, John Talley, Edie Schechter and the late Eileen Salmon stand out as special friends. Lea Davies and Larry Power also made Mary feel welcome in the Northwest Corner. She loved them all.

During the last two and a half years of Mary’s life, she stayed in Wellington year-round. Despite a strong, sharp mind, until her last breath, her frailness made travel difficult. She adored her cardiologist, Dr. Rachel Eidelman, who cared for Mary’s aging heart. 

Mary had sold her Delray residence and moved to Wellington to be near her family. After two falls with a broken ankle, then hip, Mary wanted to move to an assisted living facility near her daughter. 

Never wanting to be a “burden,” as she said, Mary embraced her new life at NuVista. For the next year and a half, Mary enjoyed new friends, painting, lectures, exercise programs and excellent care by devoted, caring women. She was interested in her caregivers, asking them about school, their families, life concerns. Her personal aide, Janet Meikli, helped make Mary’s life independent, fun and manageable. 

An avid reader, Mary usually had two books going at once. She watched Jeopardy nightly, and would have been an all-time champion, thanks to her incredible knowledge and intellect. The night she passed, Mary watched Jeopardy one last time, correctly answering all but three questions. Mary saw her daughter daily, went to the barn and horse show with her, came for afternoons by the pool, rides in the golf cart (and putted with the same skillfulness), dined out with her family and, as always, directed decorating the Christmas trees! Mary loved life.

Mary often said her life was full: full of joys and of sorrows; of successes and of failures; of gains and of losses — that it wasn’t perfect — but it was hers. Her unyielding spirit and positive nature fueled this daughter, wife, mother and friend.

Mary passed away peacefully in her sleep after just one day of discomfort. She left this life for the next with the same grace, elegance, poise, determination and politeness that defined her.

Mary is survived by her son, Vincent James and his wife, Kathleen, of Marblehead; her daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, Neil, of Sharon, New York and Wellington; her sister-in-law, Silvia Perroni of Manchester, N.H.; many nieces and nephews; her step-granddaughters, Erin and Tara and their families; her “other daughter,” Barbara Parker of Evanston, Ill.; many loving friends; and Dixie.

Any remembrances may be made to St. Michael’s Church in Marblehead or the Animal Medical Center in New York.