Obituary of Mary Lee Robertson
Mary Lee Robertson, 78, died peacefully on Thursday, September 1, surrounded by her loving family. Born Mary Lee Hammesfahr, she grew up in Darien, Connecticut. She was a gregarious and popular student at Darien High School, Smith College, and The Sorbonne in Paris, where she studied art history; after graduating she became an art buyer for a studio and later an advertising agency in New York City.
In 1957 she married Alexander J Robertson Jr (Alec); during their 53 years of marriage the devoted couple had four children and lived in South Africa, Colorado and Connecticut. She was a strong, creative, and caring mother who was always involved with her children's activities, from school to sports to extracurricular activities. The family spent its holidays in Bridgehampton, New York, where Mary Lee enjoyed an active social life, and played tennis, paddle tennis, and golf. When her husband set up his own company in 1978, Mary Lee was a principal in the business, juggling office work with raising the children.
Passionate about art, Mary Lee always incorporated it into her life. She painted theater sets for the Children's Theater in Darien and the Evergreen Chorale in Colorado and volunteered at various museums and galleries including the Denver Art Museum and the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich CT; she also helped organize shows at the Bridgehampton Club and at Essex Meadows.
Beginning in 1988, Mary Lee made the time and space in her life to develop her own work. She painted in a variety of media including oil and watercolor, and cited landscape and forms in nature as her chief inspiration. Her work has been exhibited in galleries on the East Coast, and several of her pieces are now in private collections.
Mary Lee was also an avid reader. She participated in book clubs, and always kept abreast of the season's must-read books. She belonged to the National League of American Penwomen in her artist's capacity, and enjoyed the exchange of intellectual ideas. She volunteered at many libraries, and was recently a reader for second grade children at the Essex Elementary School.
Cancer was a recurring burden for Mary Lee. First she suffered breast cancer in 1976. In 1993 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and after a two-year fight became part of the three percent of patients who survive the disease, through a combination of experimental treatment and willpower. She survived sixteen years before the disease appeared again, bearing with it complications such as diabetes.
Mary Lee never gave up fighting cancer, and never allowed it to prevent her from living her life the way she wanted. She kept a busy schedule, travelled frequently to visit her children and grandchildren, and when she lost the use of her right hand she taught herself to paint with the left. She will be much missed by the many people whose lives she touched, but her memory will continue to serve as a comfort and inspiration to us all.
Funeral arrangements are being made privately by the family through Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home in Centerbrook, Connecticut. There will be two celebrations of Mary Lee's life: the first on Saturday, September 17 at 12pm at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Connecticut, and the second to be held over the Thanksgiving period in Bridgehampton, New York.