Monday, April 14, 2014

A Great Mom


WORDguy writes: I believe this is a first for The WORD. We have observed, honored and otherwise celebrated a number of dying heroes on this site over the years, but I think this is the first actual obit The WORD has ever run. A friend observed yesterday that obituaries are staples of journalism, and so why not? He’s got a point. Many of us who do journalism start with the usual dry and stale recitations that appear on the funeral pages of newspapers. I must have written a hundred. But I don’t think they have to be so bone-brittle. Especially in the case of this woman, I prefer to celebrate her with a little more verve. She’d like it, I think. TP
As it happens, The Beatles were singing, “I get by with a little help from my friends” as I write this to celebrate the life and legacy of Lillian Carol Zacrhrisson Pease, my mother.

Lillian was born in Boston in 1930. March 7, in case anyone wants to celebrate that day. She died rather quickly and efficiently on Saturday in Brunswick, Maine, 84 years later, after falling and busting her hip just a few days before.

She was always efficient, our Mom. She got things done. And, when the end came for her, she didn't mess around. 
Lillian was a wordsmith, and she—and dad—have given that oddity to us. “Oddity” is a word that she would enjoy. A few months ago, when she told me on the phone, in despair, that she was “losing my words,” So I started calling with words that she had given me—like “fewmet.” She laughed.
Her loving and talented parents were Carroll and Lillian Zachrisson, second-generation Swedish immigrants who lived in Stoughton, Mass., where Lillian (Jr.) grew up. Carroll was a professional photographer. His wife worked in a bank. My mom attended the prestigious Boston Girls Latin School, and then went to the daunting women’s college, Wellesley, whence (she’d like that, too) she graduated in 1951. 

Although her professors were pushing her toward medical school, she inexplicably enrolled in The Union Theological Seminary in New York City. There she met Frederic A. Pease, Jr., whom (she’d like that, too) she married June 20, 1953. 

Fred got an assignment to minister to a bunch of New Hampshire heathens in two little towns, New Ipswich and Jaffrey, N.H. Eventually, a bundle of kids ensued: Ted (1955) and David (1956) were born in New Hampshire, Ruth (1959) and Rebecca (1961) in Andover, Mass., where Fred became chaplain at Phillips Academy in 1958.

In 1956, Lillian and Fred went with friends to vacation on the coast of Maine. Inexplicably—again!—the two couples boarded a slow boat from Mount Desert out to Swans Island, where both families purchased homes, pretty much on the spot. Over the years, the families and their kids grew up every summer (and a few frigid Decembers) on Swans Island, and the kids and the next generations continue to do so.

Lillian went back to college in 1969. She enrolled at the Simmons School of Social Work in Boston, and earned a master’s degree. She used that training to become director of Fidelity House, a residential home for mentally disabled adults, and later teenagers, in Lawrence, Mass. She grew the enterprise from a single home for about six people to a series of residential facilities that served hundreds by the time she retired to Maine in 1990.

Lillian was a fabulous cook, a formidable Scrabble player and an enthusiastic singer and pianist. She sang Gilbert & Sullivan in the kitchen. What she liked best about being a minister’s wife was not just the shared social commitment, but the community and choir that come with church. She and Fred always got by with a lot of help from her friends.

She and Fred moved to Brunswick, Maine, in January 2014. Until her death, she was an active member of the First Congregational Church of Wiscasset, Maine, and the Maine Womens Lobby in Augusta.

A memorial service and celebration of her wonderful life will be at the First Congregational Church of Wiscasset, Maine, on Monday, May 5. Come prepared to sing. She’d like that.

• Editorial Comment: Bye, Mom.

PeezPix by Ted Pease 
Good Night


TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard


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