Mary “Bushy” Bushnell Pearce Henry, 102, of Tuckerman Ave., Middletown, R.I. and South Bristol, passed away on Dec. 24, 2022, in the St. Clare Home in Newport, R.I. She was the wife of the late Eugene Baker Henry, USN, Ret.
Bushy was remarkable not only for her age but for her generation. As she reminded us all often, “Do you realize I was born the year after women got the vote! Can you imagine what I have seen?” It was a rhetorical question.
Bushy was a long-time member of the Christmas Cove Improvement Association. Her love of boats, especially small ones, was only exceeded by her love of Maine and her uncanny ability to bring people together around the dinner table at her tiny camp on Bradstreet Cove. She was endlessly generous with her time and her hospitality was legendary.
Her enthusiasm and curiosity were infectious. As a librarian for the Redwood Library and Atheneum in Newport, R.I., she was the one who could and did find the answers to the most obscure questions. She fostered a love of literature and reading especially in young people. Routinely she gathered up books and had them on the desk waiting for her young patrons. “I thought you might be interested in these,” she would say to the small person barely able to see over the counter. Ninety percent of the time she was spot on.
She loved the natural world, and well into her 90s would row her Whitehall skiff Amiable Comfort regardless of weather. She was a fixture in Poorhouse Cove, scanning the horizon for osprey and eagles drifting quietly waiting for the seals to come to her. When she could no longer sweep her oars, she turned her boat around and rowed stern first. As she used to say, “just poking along.”
Bushy was principled and expected others to follow suit. She believed firmly in fairness, equality, generosity and championed causes that reflected that. As a long-time member of the Colonial Dames of Rhode Island, Bushy took her country seriously, and would often remark on what a wonderful country we all live in. She became a tree steward, an advocate for open land, championed equal voting and equal pay and remained elegant, with a dry sense of humor and wit. She learned to fly a small plane and held a press pass for the Geneva Peace Convention. She was a woman for all seasons.
Mary Bushnell Pearce Henry, a 10th generation Rhode Islander, is survived by her immediate family, Bird and Dyer Jones and their children. Her grandchildren Meghan and Jeffery Stasz now own her cottage. May her memory be a blessing.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Bushy’s name to the Coastal Rivers Trust, 3 Round Top Lane, Damariscotta, ME 04543.