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Mary Weston Brinkerhoff

1923 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Mary Weston Brinkerhoff Obituary
MARY WESTON BRINKERHOFF Mary passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early morning hours of Thursday, November 17, 2016 at the Sunrise Senior Living Center in Canyon Crest. She was 93 years old. Born in 1923 in Jamaica Plain, MA, she grew up in Cambridge, where her father, George Benson Weston (b. 1874, d. 1960), was a professor of romance languages at Harvard University and a recognized expert on opera and classical music. Her father and mother, Meriel Dimick Weston (b. 1888, d. 1945), frequently played duets on the back-to-back baby grand pianos in their home on Craigie Street. She had one brother, nine years her senior, Charles D. Weston (b. 1914, d. 2015). Mary attended the Brimmer and May School, and following graduation, demonstrating the independent streak that characterized her life, pursued studies in art, rather than her parents' expectation of musical training. Mary excelled at practical, hands-on activities; she trained and showed dogs, and drove an ambulance as a volunteer for the Red Cross. During World War II, Mary served as a Navy WAVE from May, 1943 through May, 1945. With one of the highest scores on the mechanical aptitude test, she became an airplane mechanic, training at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Norman OK, and then maintaining planes at Anacostia Naval Air Station outside of Washington DC. The pilots used to take their female mechanics up in their planes with the aim of making them airsick. Mary always disappointed them, simply thanking her pilot for the ride. A childhood friend introduced Mary to his army buddy, Dericksen Morgan Brinkerhoff, in the late summer of 1946, and three months later they were married in the Unitarian Church in Harvard Square in Cambridge MA. Dericksen was a graduate student, studying art history, first at Yale, then at Harvard, and pursued a career as a university professor. Mary found her calling in being a faculty wife, raising four children, and taking on a variety of volunteer roles (for example, Brownie leader, PTA chair, wine group leader). Mary organized family camping trips and visits to museums and concerts, helped her children with school projects, read out loud in the evenings, and throughout her life, served as the family's emotional center while providing a sympathetic ear when needed. Mary adored animals. A succession of pets filled the Brinkerhoff household: dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, mice, squirrels, and at one point a snake. Mary loved to answer the front door with the snake wrapped around her shoulders and neck. Academic life took Mary and her husband from Cambridge and Dover, MA to Europe (Brussels and Rome), to State College and Philadelphia, PA, and then in 1965 to Riverside, CA when Dericksen joined the art history department at UCR. Wherever they were, Mary was renowned among faculty and students alike for hosting convivial dinners and parties. Mary and Dericksen became interested in the burgeoning California wine industry, and developed personal relationships with a number of well-known vintners. Together they took on leadership roles in the Wine Society of Riverside, and organized tastings and events well into their 90s. They loved to travel in their camper, often visiting their children on their trips. As Mary's children grew up, married, and in the case of her youngest, had children, much of her life revolved around this expanded family network. Mary's big heart extended her caring and support beyond this web of familial connections to others as well, for whom she became a surrogate mother figure. Mary lived her life with enthusiasm, a sense of adventure, strong opinions, wit, humor, compassion, empathy, generosity, a can-do spirit, optimism, acceptance, patience, and enduring love. Those whose lives she touched will miss her greatly, but all feel blessed to have known her. She leaves her beloved husband, Dericksen, as well as her children and their spouses: Derick and Jennifer Brinkerhoff, Bethesda MD; Elizabeth Clarke, Atlanta GA; Jonathan and Eileen Brinkerhoff, Albuquerque NM; and Caroline Bruner, Loveland CO. She also leaves her grandson and granddaughter and their spouses: Timothy and Jill Peterson, Riverside CA; Emily and Justin Smith, Nunn CO: and great granddaughter, Megan Peterson. Mary's life will be celebrated at a private memorial in December on what would have been her and her husband's 70th wedding anniversary. Mary, according to her wishes, will be remembered with a bench in her name located in the UCR Botanic gardens. Contributions to the bench can be sent to: "UC Regents," specify Brinkerhoff BG Bench, UCR, BEES Admin, 2460 Geology, 900 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92521.

Published in Press-Enterprise from Nov. 27 to Nov. 28, 2016
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