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Lucy Appleton Potter

Lucy Appleton Potter, known affectionately as Groggy to her grandchildren, Mummy to her children, Mrs. Potter to her students, and Aunt Lucy by many, passed away on January 14, 2015 as she approached her eighty-eighth year in life. Lucy taught elementary school in Ipswich for twenty-four years and was the twelfth consecutive generation of the Appleton family to live in Essex County. In addition to teaching, Lucy was a regular presence at the Ipswich Visitors Center where she extolled the virtues of this town to all who passed through. She was an altar guild member at Ascension Memorial Church, a volunteer at the Dinner Bell, and a member of the Council on Aging. In 2012, Lucy received the Rosemary F. Kerry community service award for “showing the highest level of community service to improve the quality of life of elders.” She was one of the most beloved members of the Ipswich community and she will be greatly missed by those who knew her.

Lucy lived a long and adventurous life. She was born during the Jazz Age in Boston, at MGH hospital in 1927 to Donald Appleton and Nathalie Arnold. Her father was a graduate of Harvard University, a Captain of the Army stationed on the western front of Europe during the First World War, and a businessman. Her mother was a graduate of Vassar College, a pilot, suffragette, actress and the daughter of the Massachusetts industrialist C.W. Arnold. Lucy was raised in Andover, and Dayton, OH, where her father managed a paper mill during the Second World War. Growing up, she treasured her summers in Annisquam. She attended the Baldwin School for Girls and then the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now known as Carnegie Mellon) where she graduated in 1949 with a Fine Arts Degree from the Drama Department.

That same year, Lucy married Frank Potter with whom she had four daughters: Nathalie, Pamela, Valerie, and Lucia and divorced in 1967. Lucy was an extraordinary mother, interested in every aspect of her daughters’ lives. In 1969, Lucy went so far as to pack her teenaged daughters into their Chevy Malibu for a camping trip to Woodstock, NY where they would witness the three-day concert that would become the seminal musical event of a generation.

Lucy Appleton Potter was also a working mother, receiving her Master of Education degree from Northeastern University and teaching school in Ipswich for most of her adult life. In 1971, Lucy won a prestigious Fulbright Exchange award and traveled to England to teach school for a year. Lucy retired from teaching in 1991, but even two decades after her retirement, she could not walk through downtown Ipswich or Crane’s Beach without being greeted by former students and well-wishers.

Although Ipswich was always home, Lucy frequently left town to visit her daughters and grandchildren. She treasured being an integral part of their lives, celebrating events big and small. She also traveled to every corner of the globe; her favorite destinations abroad included England, Egypt, Italy, Australia, China, South Africa, Costa Rica, Chile, and Russia. Even well into her 80’s she could be found riding dolphins in the Bahamas and elephants in Thailand. She traveled to India by herself, and at eighty-six she made a thousand foot unassisted boulder climb up Bald Mountain in Oquossoc, Maine.  Even in Massachusetts, she was always on the move, making countless trips into Boston for the Symphony, lectures, plays, or the Boston Red Sox.

Lucy always credited tennis for keeping her fit and her eyesight keen. She was a member of several tennis groups and could still win a match over her grandchildren. The morning before she died Lucy had installed a recumbent bicycle into her home so that she could start training to play tennis again in the spring.

Lucy Appleton Potter had seemingly boundless energy, despite many health-related challenges. Lucy was cited in medical journals as the longest living survivor of thyroid cancer treated by radioactive iodine.  She went through three bouts of breast cancer, repaired a blocked carotid, had a knee replacement, and had struggled to swallow for decades due to throat issues as a consequence of scarring radiation treatment on her neck as a teen. Nurses that read her medical history had a hard time equating what they read with the woman sitting in front of them. Lucy was a paragon on how to succeed at the difficult art of aging with purpose. Her drive to continue exploring, to continue learning, and to continue serving others made her an example to all.

Lucy Appleton Potter was the matriarch of a large extended family. For thirty-two years, nearly every branch of that family gathered at her small home on Linden Street for the annual Christmas “Rumble.” At these gatherings, all came to share in her joy for living.

Lucy Appleton Potter is survived by her brother, John Appleton of Boston; sister, Alix Hasson of Rockville, MD; daughters, Nathalie P. Maio of Franklin Lakes, NJ, Pamela P. Pearce of Mission Viejo, CA, Valerie P. Duecker of Novato, CA, and Lucia P. Hoffman of Stamford, CT; grandchildren, Nathalie Alsop Hrizi, Katharine Alsop, Stewart Alsop III, Charles W. Pearce, Lucy Hoffman, Thomas Hoffman, Emily Hoffman and Hannah Hoffman; and great-grandchild, Adam Hrizi. Her memorial service will be held at 2 pm Saturday, January 24 in the Ascension Memorial Church, 31 County St., Ipswich, MA 01938. Family and friends are respectfully welcomed. Her interment will be private. Arrangements are under direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in her name may be made to the Ascension Memorial Church. 

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