Mary Payson

Mary Payson, 83, formerly of Jaffrey Center, NH, died Sunday, July 7, 2013, in Raleigh, NC after a long illness.

Born in Milwaukee, WI on May 1, 1930, to Marion Elizabeth Reindl and Dr. Arthur Harrison Robinson, she spent her early years in Jefferson, WI. She studied at Carleton College in Northfield, MN from 1947-49, graduating in 1951 from the University of Wisconsin where she was a member and president of Delta Gamma.

In August 1951, she married Captain John Olaf Batiste, US Army, in Fort Atkinson, WI. Their service took them to many stations, including Athens, Greece and Tehran, Iran. Mary was a student of culture, particularly of the cuisine, language and handicrafts of the Greek and Iranian people. She was a consummate hostess, and actively supported the communities in which she lived. Retiring to Jaffrey Center, NH in 1977, Colonel Batiste died in August 1979.

Mary married William Francis Payson in January 1985. They continued to live in Jaffrey Center where Mary was at the heart of the life of the historic village, serving many terms as presidents of the Village Improvement Society and the Thorndike Club. Among her efforts in Jaffrey Center were the restoration of the Meetinghouse originally constructed in 1775, the establishment of a museum at the Melville Academy, and the creation of Centennial Park. She served on the Board of Directors of the Jaffrey-Gilmore Foundation and on the Board of the Jaffrey Historical Society. Mary was also devoted to New Hampshire's natural resources, particularly the high peaks of the White Mountains. Her final hike to Mt. Lafayette along the Franconia Ridge Trail took place in 2004. She was a longtime member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and of its President's Society. Mary was a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Peterborough, serving on the Altar Guild.

Bill Payson died in April 2000. In February 2009, Mary moved to Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community in Raleigh, NC.

Mary was predeceased by her parents and husbands. She is survived by a son, Major General John Robinson Batiste, US Army (Retired), and wife Michelle Shachnow-Batiste of Rochester, NY, and a daughter, Elizabeth Mary Batiste Hartzell and husband James Jerome Hartzell of Raleigh, NC. She lovingly passes on her legacy of life and learning to her grandchildren: Jeanette Anne Batiste of Rochester, NY; Dr. Rebecca Cydney Batiste of Philadelphia, PA; Katherine Marie Batiste of Rochester, NY; William David Batiste of Rochester, NY; Michael Harrison Batiste of Rochester, NY; Samuel Batiste Hartzell of Philadelphia, PA; Sarah Day Hartzell of Cambridge, MA; and William Robinson Hartzell of Chapel Hill, NC; and three great grandchildren. Her sister, Cynthia Vonier Oliver Hutchinson of Brookfeld, WI, also survives her, as well as her nephews and niece, Stewart Oliver of Elm Grove, WI, David Oliver of New York, NY, Andrew Oliver of Whitefish Bay, WI, and Katherine Oliver Lee of Hinsdale, IL, and nine great nieces and nephews.

In honor of Mary's long standing commitment to the preservation of Jaffrey Center, the family asks that contributions in her memory be sent to the Jaffrey Center Village Improvement Society, P.O. Box 722, Jaffrey, NH with "In memory of Mary Payson in the memo line.

A memorial service will be held at All Saints Episcopal Church in Peterborough, NH on Saturday, August 17 at 11:00. Mary's remains will be buried in Cutter Cemetery in Jaffrey Center, and in Arlington National Cemetery.

Published in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript on July 18, 2013