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Mary Pennington Weatherall

Mary Pennington Weatherall, 88, passed away peacefully in her home in Ipswich, on February 25, 2018.  The daughter of the Reverend Leslie Talbot Pennington, and Elizabeth Entwistle Daniels, a teacher of latin, and sister to the late Antoinette Pennington Fisk.

Mary was born in Braintree on January 26, 1930, and raised in Cambridge and Chicago Illinois.  She, along with her sister Toni, attended the Shady Hill School, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, and Radcliffe College, from which she graduated with a degree in Fine Arts in 1952.  She married John Hoyer Updike in 1953, and they spent their honeymoon in a small cottage behind the Goodale Apple Orchard on Argilla Road, loaned to them by a family friend. 

After John Graduated from Harvard College, they spent a year in Oxford England, both attending the Ruskin School of Drawing. They then moved to New York City, where John worked as a reporter for the New Yorker Magazine.  Two years later, in search of a place to raise their growing family outside the city, they fondly remembered the town where they had spent their honeymoon, with itís beautiful beach, and moved to Ipswich in 1957.  They rented a house known as ĎLittle Violetí on Essex Road and in 1959, they bought  The Polly Dole House at 26 East Street, where they raised their four children, Elizabeth, David, Michael, and Miranda, as well as a loyal coterie of cats and dogs.

As her husband Johnís writing career flourished, Mary remained active raising her children, painting, and serving on the townís Fair Housing Committee, working to ensure that all who wanted to move to, and purchase property in Ipswich, were welcome to do so.  She was active in the civil rights movement, and in l965 flew to Alabama with fellow Ipswich residents; the late Reverend Goldthwaite Sherrill, William Wasserman, and the late Sally Landis Wasserman, to participate in one of the three Selma to Montgomery marches.

In 1970, the family moved to Labor-in-Vain Road, a house she lovingly maintained for the next forty eight years. She married her second husband, the late Robert Weatherall, there, in l982, and it was there that her painting career flourished.   Her landscapes of Ipswich were avidly purchased and collected and a large retrospective of her work was held at the Schlesingler Library, at Radcliffe College, in the year 2000. 

In the 1990ís,  Mary and Robert worked with the town, the Greenbelt Association, the Nichols family of Essex, and with a substantial monetary contribution of their own, helped make it possible to purchase  ten acres of open meadow above their house.  Now known as The Nicholís Field, it is an a invaluable addition to the open spaces of Ipswich, enjoyed by joggers, dog walkers, fisherman, and romantically inclined teenagers, who walk the mile down Labor-in-Vain Road to enjoy the field overlooking the Ipswich River.

Since Robertís passing in 2014, Mary had continued to live alone on Labor-in-Vain Road, alone, with the help of her friends and family members.  She has made valiant recoveries from three separate falls, two broken hips, and for the last six months has enjoyed a period of good health, hosting family and friends to the house she loved. She was deeply concerned with the plight of Syrian refugees, and supported efforts to welcome them to Ipswich.  

On January 26, she celebrated her eighty-eighth birthday with her family at The Hart House restaurant in Ipswich. Several weeks later, she caught a bad cold, which in turn led to pneumonia. When they learned of her illness, all seven of her grandsons and a wife, Anoff and Jaime Cobblah, Kwame Cobblah, Wesley Updike, Trevor Updike, Sawyer Updike, Kai Freyleue, and Seneca Freyleue, arrived from various corners of New England to be with her. Her great grandson, Weston Scott Kofi Cobblah, was also there with his parents.  

She is also survived by her four children; Elizabeth Cobblah, David Updike, Michael Updike, and Miranda Updike, their spouses; Tete Cobblah, Wambui Githiora Updike, Jeffrey Kern, her three step-children;  Robert, Alexander, and Helen Weatherall and their spouses. She was a kind and generous friend to many, a loving wife, a wonderful mother and grandmother and great grandmother, and will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

A Celebration of her life will be held at First Church in Ipswich, UCC, One Meetinghouse Green, Ipswich on Saturday May 5 at 2 pm. Arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.  In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to the Ipswich Refugee Program, P.O. Box 285, Ipswich, MA 01938-9998.


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