Marion Richards Wise

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Marion Richards Wise of Sorrento died peacefully at home on September 11, 2018 at the age of 98.

She was born in Minneapolis, MN in 1919, the daughter of John Augustus Richards and Marion Hill Richards.  Marion grew up in Minneapolis and in Toronto, Ontario where her father managed Canadian operations for Retail Credit Co., now Equifax.  She graduated from Havergal College, a Church of England preparatory school for girls in Toronto, and received a B.A. from Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, in 1941.  Indicative of her lifelong love of education, she later received a Certificate in Landscape Design from Radcliffe Seminars in Cambridge, MA and studied art history, English literature, and Canadian history and culture as a graduate student at the University of Maine Orono, as well as poetry at the College of the Atlantic.

While an undergraduate at Mt. Holyoke, she met William M. Wise, Jr., a senior at Amherst College.  The attraction was instant; their romance blossomed.  She and Bill were married at her parents’ home in Toronto in August 1941.  They spent part of their honeymoon in the Katahdin area and at Petit Manan — for Marion the beginning of a deep affection for Maine, its mountains, coast and people that lasted for the rest of her life.

After their wedding, Bill and Marion settled in Cambridge, MA.  In 1943, Bill was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and soon left for the Pacific War; Marion returned to Toronto.  Their son, Bill III, was born while Bill, Jr. was at sea. After World War II, Bill and Marion lived in Hingham, MA, Chatham, NJ, and again in Hingham.  Two daughters, Sally and Ellen, joined the family. They all spent part of almost every summer in Maine. Bill and Marion moved full-time to Sorrento in 1976 after Bill retired from the Travelers Insurance Co. in Boston.

Marion was an extraordinary mother of three children.  She was also quite attuned to the changing role of women in American society. She began working in the Art Department of Wheaton College, Norton, MA in the mid-1960s where she also taught art history.  Subsequently Marion fashioned a career lecturing on the relationship between art history and landscape design.  She traveled throughout New England and as far south as Richmond, VA giving talks to garden clubs and other groups in which she presented visual comparisons of landscape paintings to actual landscapes.  Many visitors to Sorrento enjoyed her beautiful gardens at “Windfall.” Marion’s interests were limitless and she pursued them with skill, grace and style.

Marion is survived by her husband, son William M. Wise III and wife Ronna Freiberg of Washington, DC, daughter Sally Wise of Sorrento, and daughter Ellen Sivon and husband James Sivon of Bethesda, MD, grandson John Wise and wife Maryanne Wise of Fairfax, VA, grandson James Wise and Sara Bauleke of Arlington, VA, granddaughter Marguerite Allen and husband Greg Allen of Brooklyn, NY, granddaughter Julia Murillo and husband Christian Murillo of Washington, DC, and greatgrandchildren Caroline and William Wise of Fairfax, VA.

Friends may call at the Bragdon-Kelley Funeral Home, 215 Main St., Ellsworth, on Sunday, September 16, 2:00-4:00 pm. Burial will be in the Doanes Point Cemetery in Sorrento.  A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Redeemer, Sorrento, in August 2019.  Contributions in Marion’s memory may be made to the Mt. Holyoke College Art Museum, Lower Lake Rd., South Hadley, MA 01075.




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