Mary Anne Hickie
1952 ~ 2023
Mary Anne Hickie, age 70, of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts died on May 29, 2023, of an unexpected cerebral hemorrhage. She leaves her wife and life partner of 27 years, Esther Kohn, her brother Tony and sister-in-law Grace Hickie of Dublin Ireland, nieces Bairbre Hickie (Nigel Lynch), Brigitte Canel-Hickie (David Mencarelli), and Clodogh Logue (Johnny Logue), nephews Denis Hickie (Leah Baker) and Gavin Hickie (Jessica Hickie), many grandnieces and grandnephews, and a large and devoted extended family of in-laws, friends, neighbors, and former coworkers. Her brother Denis died in 2021.
Born in Dublin in 1952, the youngest child of Evelyn and Denis J. Hickie, Mary graduated from Muckross Park School in 1969, where she played many sports and was a member of 1st team in a school renowned for its field hockey teams. She joined a local architectural practice after earning a degree in Architecture Technology from the College of Technology in Dublin in 1972. She was a popular member of the Dublin folk music scene, singing and playing guitar in many Dublin folk clubs, and continued to enjoy sports, playing on the 1st team of the local badminton club. In 1975 she moved to London to pursue her architectural career; the city became a stepping-off point for her many trips throughout Europe, exploring and busking with her guitar.
Mary moved to Boston in 1980 with only a few hundred dollars and created a rich life of friends and family with a home in JP and a perfect postage stamp size cottage in Provincetown. She developed a large network of close friends, many of whom shared her love of biking and joined her on several Boston to Provincetown one-day bike trips with Chiltern Mountain Club and for multi-day bike trips in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. A lover of dance and music of all types, she spent many a weekend night in her 20s and 30s dancing her heart out at hot spots such as the Marquee in Cambridge and Somewhere Else in downtown Boston. Up until her death, Mary was a graceful, rhythmic dancer whose feet seemed to glide across the floor.
Making her home and professional life in Boston, Mary dedicated a significant part of her architectural career to Arrowstreet Inc. of Cambridge and later Somerville, MA. She worked for Arrowstreet from 1984 to 2008, becoming an Associate Principal. While her Arrowstreet roles and responsibilities changed over time, her outlook, values, and demeanor never did. Rare was the day she didn’t have a sparkle in her eye and a smile on her face. Though Mary worked on many commercial projects, especially in retail, both locally and as far away as Puerto Rico, her greatest contribution to the firm was her quietly remarkable efforts at staff development. Mary loved people, whether she was leading a project team, presenting to a client, or interviewing a candidate for an architectural position. Mary’s heart for people led her to persistently advocate for those in need of a greater voice to nurture their advancement.
In 2010, Mary began volunteering for the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and was able to integrate her love of nature into her professional life. She quickly became indispensable and was hired as ENC’s Special Projects Manager in 2012. Mary was perfect for the role. One of the projects she managed with knowledge, perseverance, and charm, was the restoration of the fountain in the Kelleher Rose Garden in the Back Bay Fens. The fountain had not been working for many years and the once-beautiful cherubs, statuary around the fountain, were either missing or in terrible condition. She worked tirelessly to achieve an historically accurate restoration of this important Rose Garden feature. The fountain now enchants visitors each summer.
Mary was asked to represent the Emerald Necklace Conservancy on the public committee named to review options and provide input for the removal of the Casey Overpass at Forest Hills. The largest transportation project within the Necklace, the process was not without controversy. Mary handled her role with skill, exceptional listening, and integrity.
Mary was a keen observer of the natural world and could sit while time stood still, watching hummingbirds, butterflies, and other flying and crawling creatures. She found solace in trees, appreciating their structure, design, color, and ability to communicate for mutual support. She deeply valued the importance of trees to the environment and to people. Birdwatching and walks in the Arboretum were an essential part of her daily life and her relationship with Esther. It was there she and Esther found comfort and quiet during the pandemic, in the company of trees and plants from around the world.
But Mary’s favorite natural setting was Provincetown, located at the tip of Cape Cod. In 1997, she purchased a two hundred square foot cottage at the edge of town which became her refuge, creative space, and a gathering place for her and Esther’s large circle of friends and family. Over the years she transformed a neglected structure with a drab interior into a pleasing, calm, warm bungalow, full of color and art where only the barest of essentials were neatly stored, each in its place. Mary generously contributed her skills and dedication to her Beach Point Club condominium community where she served on the board multiple times, most recently as president, and spent full summers at the cottage over the past three years. She enjoyed her butterfly garden and lengthy swims in the bay after overcoming her reluctance to put her head in the water. Provincetown allowed Mary to be her truest self, which was her lifelong dream.
Mary loved to solve problems, especially ones that involved words or spatial relationships. She spent four months completing a jigsaw puzzle of President Lincoln’s face comprised of miniature archival photographs from the civil war. She attained “Genius” daily in The New York Times Spelling Bee game and endured cross-Atlantic flights to Ireland to be with family by doing crossword puzzles. She fixed electronics, built shelves, replaced sinks, installed windows, and shingled her cottage. A handywoman extraordinaire, she shared her talents generously: Mary was always the go-to expert for friends with a home improvement issue or crisis.
She not only enjoyed using her hands to fix, shape, craft, and assemble, but relished pondering what she could do to make the world around her more functional, pleasant, and aesthetically appealing. From helping friends choose paint colors for their homes to dreaming up ways to make her Provincetown cottage home ever more adorable and livable, Mary put energy and care into envisioning and creating a more beautiful world.
Mary died suddenly, unexpectedly, and too soon. She will be deeply missed for her laughter, loyalty, clear honesty, attention to details, and the love she offered to each of us. Her friends and family can draw comfort in knowing that she had reached a place of contentment and frequently expressed appreciation for the many blessings in her life. After retiring she wrote, “I have such abundance that I never envisioned, and now with more time and energy to enjoy it, I am the luckiest person: birds in the backyard, little magical flying creatures, someone who loves me who comes home to me every night, a house painted colors that I chose, comfort when I need it, friends I can talk to and walk with, summers by the sea. I have created a wonderful thing all around me, this wonderful thing called my life, full of abundance. I am grateful to myself for having the vision and I am grateful to the universe for providing. I am full, I am humbled, I am enough.”
Donations in Mary’s memory may be made to The Arnold Arboretum (https://arboretum.harvard.edu/), The Emerald Necklace Conservancy (https://www.emeraldnecklace.org/), LGBTQ Senior Housing (https://www.lgbtqseniorhousing.org/the-pryde), and Rosie’s Place (https://www.rosiesplace.org/)
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