Tribute To A Beautiful Lady

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My mother, Evelyn Feeney, died a month short of her 95th birthday.  Her obituary follows.

Evelyn Pease Feeney, 94, died Saturday, June 16, 2012. She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Thomas J. Feeney, Sr. She is survived by her sons, Thomas Feeney, Jr. (Carmen), James Feeney (Linda) and Dennis Feeney (Katie); daughter, Kathleen (Richard); sisters, Priscilla and Dorothea; brother, William, along with nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Mom’s sunny, loving presence will be sorely missed by her children and grandchildren alike, who will tell stories of her wonderful life to the growing ranks of her great-grandchildren. Evelyn graduated from Northfield Seminary in Northfield, MA and the Columbia University School of Dental Hygiene. Before her marriage in 1941 she worked in New York City as a dental hygienist and part-time model. She was photographed for ginger ale and Duco paint ads in Life magazine, and artist sketches of her illustrated stories in Liberty and the Saturday Evening Post. She was a member of the Mayflower Society, descended through her father, Howard Milton Pease, in two direct lines from Governor William Bradford and John and Priscilla Alden of the Plymouth Colony, passengers on the Mayflower when it landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. She and her husband had lived in New York, Virginia, Connecticut and Florida before moving to Tucson in 1994. After retirement, Evelyn and Tom Sr. enjoyed many cruises and trips, including visits to Denmark, Italy, Greece, Costa Rica and Alaska. Burial will be private. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Thomas the Apostle Church at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 28, 2012. In lieu of flowers please make a gift in memory of her to your local Food Bank.

Her funeral and related family activities filled much of last week.  My sister, Kathy Feeney, delivered the primary eulogy.  By way of closure and commentary to clients and friends who have inquired about Mom, I include brief comments I made at her funeral.

Sad as losing any loved one is, I felt real joy in reflecting back on Mom’s life.  In preparing a few words for today, I found myself doing a mental inventory of Mom’s personality characteristics and actions.  What struck me most was the flood of positive adjectives that came quickly to mind.  Someone who didn’t know her would think: “That’s just a son seeing what he wants to see.”  So I tried to think of any negative characteristics.  Virtually all of us have psychological warts or annoying characteristics.  The worst I could come up with about Mom was that she was hard of hearing.

She lived a long, beautiful life.  She was unfailingly kind, unassuming, considerate, giving – a truly gentle soul.  I wish I had inherited more of those genes, but she gave all of us a target to strive for.

She was simple in the very best sense of that word:  not complex; not hard to understand.

She never sought the spotlight.  It was never “about me.”  Rather, she reveled in the experiences and successes of others.

She bore the hardships of old age with grace and patience.  Any distress she suffered silently.  She lived with a level of equanimity unmatched by anyone else I’ve known.

She retained a bit of “girlishness” into her last days.  In Mom’s last two weeks of life, Carmen bought her a stylish jacket.  She loved it and insisted on getting out of bed to try it on over her hospital gown.

Mom radiated love.  She loved her family dearly, and we knew it.  In return, she was dearly loved.

The four of her children and our spouses were blessed to have her for a mother.

All in all, she had to be one of God’s favorite humans.