Mary Elizabeth Gillespie, of Lexington passed away peacefully with family at her side at the Maine Medical Center in Portland at the age of 83 on June 18, 2019. She had suffered two incapacitating strokes in March.
Born on May 7, 1936 in Concord, Massachusetts to the late Esther and Waldo D. Wilson, she was raised as “the fire chief’s daughter” in neighboring rural Carlisle. She graduated from Concord High School in 1954, then headed off to Fitchburg State University to study teaching. Graduating in 1958, she taught elementary school for two years at Harrington and Parker Schools in Lexington. In 1960, she married fellow Lexington educator Don Gillespie, and stepped away from teaching for eight years to help raise his two young children. Returning to teaching in 1968, she became a history and social studies educator at Lexington High School for 32 years. While there, she became heavily immersed in global studies and earned her Masters Degree at Framingham State University. In her final years with the Lexington Public Schools, she also worked part time as a social studies specialist with the town’s elementary schools.
With her retirement in 2000, Mary became involved with the Lexington Historical Society and Town Celebrations Committee. She was particularly involved with Lexington’s 300th anniversary, with videotaped oral histories of long-time Lexington residents, and with helping Lexington’s young know their town’s places and many stories. Mary loved to help others in need, and acted as chief caregiver to her father-in-law, mother, and husband in their final years. She was an avid gardener, proud of her gardens being featured on a garden tour of the Lexington Garden Club, of which she was a member. In recent years, she became known as the “neighborhood grandmother” and received visits from a number of neighbor children and tail-wagging neighborhood dogs. She remained an avid watcher and reader of the news until shortly before her death, and reveled in challenging others’ assumptions about the events of the day. A progressive since her college days, Mary embraced the changes she saw in her town and in her neighborhood as she watched Lexington evolve demographically.
She was married for fifty years to the late Donald J. Gillespie, Jr., Director of Music Education for the Lexington Public Schools as well as Lexington High School’s Band Director and founder and first conductor of the Lexington Bicentennial Band. Mary was preceded in death by her parents and younger sister, Sarah Andreassen. She is survived by her stepdaughter Jayne K. Gordon of Damariscotta, Maine formerly of Concord and her husband Don Bogart; her stepson Richard T. Gillespie of Lovettsville, Virginia and his wife Tracy; her granddaughter, Abigail Gordon of Portland, Maine; her brother-in-law Carl Andreassen of Carlisle; her niece, Alice Andreassen of Burlington; and her nephew, Aaron Andreassen and his wife Karen of Winchester, Kentucky.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main Street, Damariscotta, Maine. Condolences and messages for her family , may be expressed by visiting: www.StrongHancock.com. A Massachusetts gathering to celebrate Mary’s life will be held on Saturday September 21, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. in Lexington Historical Society’s Depot building, 13 Depot Square in Lexington Center.
The family invites donations in Mary's name to the Lexington Historical Society, P.O. Box 514, Lexington MA 02420 and Lexington Bicentennial Band, P.O. Box 173, Lexington MA 02420.
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