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Mary M. Allingham

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Mary M. Allingham Obituary
Groton - Mary M. Allingham, 80, of Groton, died peacefully on Tuesday morning, March 2, 2010, in the company of her family.

Mrs. Allingham was born in Boston, Mass. on Feb. 19, 1930, the daughter of Emery and Polly Leonard.

She graduated high school from Concord Academy in Concord, Mass. in 1947, the poet T.S. Eliot delivered the commencement address, and received a B.A. in English from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Va. in 1951. She returned to school after her children were born, and in 1970, earned a master's degree in library sciences from the University of Rhode Island.

Mrs. Allingham worked in the insurance industry in Boston before marrying her childhood friend, comrade-in-arms and love of her life, Robert P. Allingham, in 1952. Their union, which flourished for more than 55 years, was an inspiration and a model to all who knew them.

Mrs. Allingham was a homemaker during the formative years of her four children, but when her youngest daughter entered school, she began a second career as a school librarian and media specialist with the Groton Public Schools. She served happily in that capacity for more than a quarter century, most of those years as librarian at Eastern Point School in Groton. She was much beloved by the thousands of students who passed through the doors of her library, who loved her reading stories aloud as much as she enjoyed reading them. As one kindergartener told her teacher after returning from the Eastern Point library, "When Mrs. Allingham tells a story, gold comes out of her mouth."

Mrs. Allingham began a richly deserved retirement in 1992, with her beloved husband. Together they traveled extensively with a group of dear friends, satisfied their mutual intellectual curiosity at numerous Elderhostel adult education courses around the country, and played cheerfully competitive bridge with a wide circle of friends, an activity she continued to enjoy even after her husband's death in 2007. She played with her regular bridge group as recently as last Wednesday.

Just ten days before her passing, Mrs. Allingham was the guest of honor at a gala 80th birthday party, with many close friends and family members, including all of her children and grandchildren, in attendance. Her delight at being surrounded by so many of the people she loved most was palpable; her friends and family were her greatest joy.

Mrs. Allingham was a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Mystic. She was for many years a tireless volunteer for Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, where she was (among many other roles) a founder of that agency's Charity Bookstore in Groton, and she was also a long-time member of the Shenecossett Beach Club, the setting of many of her bridge triumphs.

She is survived by her sister and oldest friend, Carol Webster of Kennebunk, Maine; two sons, Stephen E. Allingham of New London and Thomas J. Allingham II and his wife, Pamela, of Wilmington, Del.; a daughter, Sarah E. Wills and her husband, Cedric, of Groton; and seven grandchildren, Thomas J. Allingham III and his wife, Elaine Gill, of Riverton, N.J., Samuel E. Allingham of Philadelphia, Pa., Henry R.S. Allingham and Lillian E. Allingham, both of Wilmington, Del., and Quentin E. Wills, Cody L. Wills, and Zoe E. Wills, all of Groton.

Mrs. Allingham was predeceased by her husband, Robert, and a daughter, Polly C. Kellum.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 15 Pearl Street, Mystic.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in Mrs. Allingham's name to Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, 255 Hempstead Street, New London, CT 06320.

Please visit www.byles.com for the family's online registry.

Published in The Day on Mar. 4, 2010
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