Mary Van Zandt Townsend, 85, of Newton, Massachusetts, died peacefully on September 11, 2020, at Newton-Wellesley Hospital after suffering a heart attack.
Her loving husband, the Rev. Dr. John Townsend, died earlier, on April 22, 2020. Mary leaves behind her son, Bill; sister, Joan Johnson; brothers, Jim and Jack Rust; and three lovely grandchildren, Quint, Helen, and Kai. The daughter of an Army Lieutenant Colonel, she lived in may interesting places, including Kansas, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Tennessee before starting her family in Philadelphia and finally moving to Newton. Mary earned her bachelor’s degree at Radcliffe College, majoring in math, where she met her husband John.
Mary was a quiet force for good. Her younger son (Steve, now deceased) was born mentally retarded in 1961, a time when many mentally handicapped people were institutionalized. She was warned early on not to expect that Steve would, for instance, ever be able to write his name. Mary never wavered in her support of Steve. Working together, Steve overcame all odds to become an amazing, emotionally mature, and cherished member of the Townsend family. While John often stole the spotlight, Mary was always working hard in the background for her family and friends. Mary was also a strong supporter and volunteer at Grace Episcopal Church, where John regularly held an intimate early Sunday service.
Mary, John, and Steve each had a strong belief in God and the afterlife. They are now reunited through their faith.
A funeral and burial service will be held at Grace Episcopal Church for both Mary and John once a Covid vaccine is widely available so that distant relatives can travel safely to say their good-byes.
In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to the Grace Episcopal Church at 76 Eldredge St, Newton, MA 02458 (617-244-3221).
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Van Zandt Townsend, please visit our floral store.
Grace Episcopal Church
76 Eldredge Street, Newton MA 02458