Published: August 29, 2023
Submitted by the Family
LEBANON, N.H. — Mary Brandon Keeler left this earth peacefully on August 1, after a valiant battle with cancer. She leaves behind her beloved husband of 24 years, Steven Rowe of Cornish, N.H.; her brother and two sisters, Leonard Keeler, Carolyn Keeler and Beth Chapados. She was also devoted to her nieces, nephew, as well as grandnieces and a grandnephew.
Mary was a vibrant woman with deep interests, passions and pursuits. She was bright with a sparkling sense of humor and tremendous energy. She loved good food, good style, red wine, good friends and was at her best when they all came together for one of her well-planned gatherings.
Mary was born December 5, 1951, to Wesley and Elinor Keeler of Corinth, N.Y., and graduated from Albany High School. Having been introduced to Star Island LRY Youth Conferences through the UU Church, she returned to Star Island, N.H., in 1971 as a summer worker, and found a home with the Island community, returning as often as possible to soak in the spirit and comfort of this special place. She pursued her BA degree at Harvard University, studying art, history and literature, graduating with honors.
She worked for Harvard for nearly 20 years, in the Rare Book Library at Harvard’s MCZ doing bookbinding and bibliography and later as assistant director of Alumni Relations for Harvard’s Business School.
Inspired by the environmental advocacy movement in the early 1990s she earned a graduate degree in Environmental Law and Policy at Vermont Law School and was recruited to work as assistant director at the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. Mary continued her professional life as program coordinator for Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Hanover, N.H., and director of Development at Crossroads Academy in Lyme, N.H.
In the mid-nineties she met her husband, Steven Rowe of Newton, N.H., at the Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires. She joined him in his antique business, Steven J. Rowe Antiques. With her typical vision and commitment, she developed her own aspect of the business, Mary Keeler Rowe Fine Art, specializing in late Nineteenth to early Twentieth Century American women artists, which she continued until her retirement in 2014. She enjoyed her retirement years by committing her sense of style and salesmanship as sales associate for both Simon Pearce Glass and Andrew Pearce Wooden Bowls in Hanover, N.H., and Hartland, Vt.
Mary was an eager student and avid reader. She never stopped researching and learning. When Mary and Steven moved to their beautiful home in Cornish, N.H., Mary immediately immersed herself in learning about the area’s late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century Cornish Arts Colony, focusing on the women artists. As an original art researcher, she taught a course through Dartmouth College’s OSHER Institute, and wrote extensively for the Wikipedia entry on Lucia Fairchild Fuller, one of her Cornish Colony artists. In the year before her death, she completed a certificate course of Art History through the Smithsonian Institute.
Mary and Steven are eternally grateful for the care and comfort they received at the Jack Byrnes Palliative and Hospice Care Center at DHMC; contributions to them in Mary’s name would be welcome. On Saturday morning, October 14, there will be a private family burial at the Chase cemetery in Cornish, N.H.
A celebration of Mary’s life will be held in the spring of 2024 at Star Island, Isles of Shoals, N.H.
All are welcome to share words of condolence and/or memories of Mary at www.legacy.com.
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