Mary Elizabeth Mead Buxton, aged 85, passed away peacefully at her home in Newtown on Friday, April 5 2019, surrounded by her family. Mary was a life-long resident of Newtown, where she was born during a fierce blizzard on February 23, 1934 to Alice Carmody Mead and Sanford Mead Jr. Mary was an only child for the first 8 years of her life and was absolutely thrilled when her cherished younger brother John Sanford Mead was born in 1942.
Despite arriving in the world between the tail-end of the Great Depression and the start of the Second World War, Mary lead a charmed, happy life as a child in a Newtown that was significantly different than today. She was an avid reader and loved learning whatever the subject, but was especially drawn to history, nature and philosophy.
She attended the newly built Hawley School through 12th grade, and then Albertus Magnus College in New Haven where she received a BA Hons. in Romance Languages. In 1955 Mary was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study French Language & Literature in Rennes France. She sailed to France on the Queen Mary, which she described as feeling like she was in an Audrey Hepburn movie. It was in France that she met her lifelong friends Ray Smith and Paul Barrette. Despite the hardships Europe was still suffering 10 years after the end of the Second World War, the friends travelled far and wide on a small Vespa motorcycle, and ate mountains of bread and drank rivers of cheap red wine. And they studied, of course, as that was the reason for being there!
Having fallen completely in love with France, Mary returned there in 1957 to work for the Military Service Club in Etienne. It was here that she met her beloved husband of 43 years, the late Henry Fremont Buxton, who was serving with the American Army stationed in France. They were married on December 27, 1958 and had six children over the following 9 years: Rolande, Marion, Nicole, Michael, Suzanne and Sanford.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, together Mary and Henry were instrumental in the foundation of the drug rehabilitation unit known as Eden House located at Fairfield Hills Hospital. Mary then went on to help start Adam House, which later became the Housatonic Adolescent Hospital. During this time, Mary also received her MSc in Psychology at the University of Bridgeport and then her PhD in Psychology at age 60 from the New School for Social Research in New York City.
Following the death of her beloved Henry, Mary became a Mercy Volunteer with the Sisters of Mercy and volunteered for a year working at a homeless shelter in New York City. In 2008, she travelled to British Guyana with the Mercy Volunteers to help with grief counselling for survivors of a fierce drug war involving villagers, the police, Army and the drug lords. Despite the danger, aged 74, Mary was determined to go and try to help make a difference in the lives of the women and children left widowed and fatherless as a result of the conflict. Of her time in Guyana, Mary wrote “The people here are lovely to look at, friendly and delightful...and poor, and afraid, and stressed, and outraged, and deeply saddened, and often bereaved, and tense, not knowing when the next attack by criminals, police or the Army may fall on them...or why. They are also so very grateful for the little we have to offer them.”
Sadly, in the past few years, Mary suffered from both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease, but despite this, she kept her sweet spirit and grace throughout. She was taken care of in her own home by the wonderful home helpers from the Danbury Nurses Registry, as well as the kind nurses and volunteers from Regional Hospice.
Mary was an intensely devout Catholic and took great solace from her visits from St Rose’s Sister Mary Ellen, Father Alphonse and the laypeople who came in to pray with her when she was no longer able to attend Mass. On the afternoon before of her death, helped by her caregiver Dorcas and the wonderful Mariotte Corson, she said her last Hail Mary, and sang along to Amazing Grace. Mary passed away peacefully the next morning, slipping away with amazing grace and a beautiful smile.
She is survived by her brother John Mead, her children Rolande Buxton Paguay, Marion Rose, Nicole Buxton, Michael Buxton, Suzanne Garofalo, and Sanford Buxton, as well as her grandchildren Michael Carter, Meghann Carter, Nicholas Garofalo, Paul Garofalo, Gabriel Buxton and Christopher Buxton.
A Mass of Christian burial to celebrate Mary’s life will be held at St Rose Church in Newtown on Saturday April 13, 2019 at 9am. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations are made to either of the following organizations in memory of Mary Buxton: Regional Hospice, 30 Milestone Road, Danbury, CT, 06810 or Almost Home Adult Daycare, 52 Federal Road, Danbury, CT, 06810. Funeral arrangements are in the care of Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street, Newtown