Daisy Erwin Mathias, 79, poet and lover of language, passed away peacefully on the evening of June 26th due to complications from kidney cancer.
She was born on November 7, 1940, in New York City to Ida (Bothwell) and David B. Mathias. After growing up in Scarsdale, NY, she graduated from Wells College in Aurora, NY, majoring in Sociology and Religion. She moved to Cleveland, OH to be an actress at the Cleveland Circle Playhouse, and later acted in the Orleans Arena Theater on Cape Cod.
Daisy loved adventure and excitement, always willing to discover another side of herself by trying something new. She traveled, making friends everywhere she went. If anything tied her many interests together, it was her love of language and a fascination with everything about human communication.
After earning a degree in Human Communication Disorders at McGill University in Montreal, she took a job at Children's Hospital in Boston, and began a long career as a hospital-based Pediatric Speech and Language Pathologist, specializing in children with cleft lip and palate. She helped countless children and families over the years, and had a knack for encouraging families to see how initial problems can become opportunities.
In the early 1980s, Daisy moved to Arlington, VA to be with the love of her life, Bob Nelson, whom she married on New Year's Day 1983. Together, they moved to Northampton, where for a time they ran a bed and breakfast at The Beeches, the historic home of Calvin Coolidge. In 1984, they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Anne. Bob and Daisy opened Peacework Gallery on Main Street, showcasing their mutual interest in Native American art. They brought many Native American artists to Northampton, including Navajo-Ute flute player R. Carlos Nakai, who played to a sold-out crowd at Smith College's Sage Hall.
Daisy continued to use her clinical skills at Baystate Medical Center, where she invented a type of "barium cookie"; so that swallowing in very young children could be analyzed by x-ray. Her specialties included feeding and swallowing issues, and cleft palate anomalies. Since the 1980s, she was a core member of the Cleft Lip & Palate Team at Shriners Hospital in Springfield, and continued to use her skills to help children and families from across New England and around the world.
Hearkening back to her days on stage, in 2006 Daisy founded "Poetry a la Carte", her long- running radio program on 91.1 WMUA-Amherst, which is still on the air after over 600 broadcast episodes. As producer, guide, and reader, she brought a world of poetry to life for her listeners all over the globe.
An accomplished writer and poet herself, Daisy could recite a multitude of poems by heart, and often did, to the delight of her friends and family. She was a member of many local writing groups, and was a trustee and organizer for WriteAngles, an annual regional writers conference.
The family would like to thank all of the wonderful and caring nurses and doctors in the Baystate hospice program who helped keep Daisy comfortable during her illness.
Daisy is survived by her husband of 37 years, Bob Nelson; their daughter Anne E. Mathias Nelson; her sister Mary W. Mathias and partner Mary Ide; niece Susan Houriet and partner Ryan Pienciak of New Jersey; nephew David M. Houriet of Vermont; and by many loving nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her niece Dana Nelson and husband Jeremy Bischoff of Lyon, France; and by her sisters-in-law, Gloria Bartholomew-Nelson of Annandale, VA, and Karyl Sylken of Portland, ME. She was predeceased by her parents, and by her brother-in-law, Stephen D. Nelson.
Daisy is also remembered by her many close and loving friends who will miss her forever.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Cleft Lip & Palate Team at Shriner's Hospital
, Springfield, MA (contact Stacey Perlmutter) or the literacy or environmental charity of your choice