Aged 85. Died March 3, 2023.
A longtime resident of Newton, Penny was the daughter of the late Brooks Potter and Gertrude Russell. Growing up in Newton Centre, she attended The Chestnut Hill School and The Winsor School in Boston, where she played Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and made many lifelong friends. She graduated from Miss Porter’s School and then Smith College. Upon graduation from Smith in 1958, Penny and a classmate left for Haiti, where she taught the children of the staff at the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti. Returning to the Boston area, she earned a Master’s degree from the Harvard School of Education, enabling her to teach fourth grade for several years in Winchester. Later, during a year in Rome, Penny taught young Italian students the English language. Several years after marrying her husband, Walter Saxe, Penny and her young family moved from Cambridge to a cherished Victorian home in Newton Corner, which held and gathered the family for almost thirty years. She volunteered as a library assistant at Underwood Elementary School, where her three children attended. She was endlessly devoted to her children and provided hours of entertainment, laughter, mischief, and kindness to them and all their friends. Her ability to care extended beyond humans to the innumerable plants and family pets that filled her home: dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, mice, salamanders, frogs, toads, and even one garter snake.
She possessed an extraordinary appreciation of the ordinary. Her favorite moments were taking the family to Popham Beach in Maine, Crane Beach in Ipswich, folk music concerts, or a restaurant, where she instantly befriended every stranger she encountered with her overpowering and contagious warmth – each one of them a “Sweetie” or “Dearie.” Upon Walter’s retirement, Penny and Walter moved to her mother’s family home in North Andover, where she had spent weekends and holidays in her youth. Thereafter, even when struggling with years of declining health, Penny retained her gregarious personality and ability to brighten any room she entered.
Penny leaves many adoring fans, including her husband, Walter, after 57 years of marriage and her children: Hannah Saxe of Waltham, Lydia Saxe and her husband Chris Crabtree of Arrowsic, Maine, and Will Saxe and his wife Julie Saxe of Cumberland, Maine, and three grandchildren: James, John, and Leelu. She also leaves her older and inseparable sister, Martha de Barros of Muir Beach, California and Martha’s three children, a younger sister, Cricket Potter of Harvard, Massachusetts, and seven nieces and a nephew belonging to her late brothers, Frank and Sutton Potter. She is predeceased by beloved companions, Barbi Lincoln and Lucy Potter.
Penny’s burial will be private and a memorial service will be held at a later date.
The Saxe Family wishes to thank all of the remarkable professionals who provided Penny with the incredible care and dignity she deserved in her final years.
Those wishing to honor her life with a donation can give to Donate - Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (hashaiti.org) noting a tribute to Penelope Potter Saxe.
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