Eight Bells: Mary “Bushy” Bushnell Henry
Published on December 29th, 2022
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 New York Yacht Club. Her love of boats and the America’s Cup was only exceeded by her ability to bring people together around the dinner table or on the terrace. She was endlessly generous with her time and her hospitality was legendary.
She loved the natural world, and well into her 90s would row her Whitehall skiff Amiable Comfort in Maine. 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. More significantly, she is survived by a legion of friends and admirers. May her memory be a blessing.
A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Bushy’s name to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, 583 Third Beach Road, Middletown, RI 02842, or to the Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust, P.O. Box 333, Damariscotta, ME 04543.