Mary D. Keesey, 107, worked with children

October 21, 2003|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Mary Dalrymple Keesey, who so firmly believed that age was simply a mind-set that she kept driving her old Buick Electra until she was 100, died Thursday at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville. She was 107.

Born Mary Schmidt in York, Pa., she was the youngest of three children in her family. She attended Oldfields School in Glencoe and Miss Wright's School in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

In 1924, she married Horace Keesey Jr. Her husband, a paper manufacturer in York, was a parishioner at her church, St. Andrew's Episcopal. Mr. Keesey died in 1965.

Mrs. Keesey spent much of her life working with children in Pennsylvania, giving particular attention to the disabled.

She served as a board member of the Children's Home of York and helped found a local chapter of the Easter Seal Society. She also helped found the Junior League of York, serving two terms as president.

She called York "a golden city" during an interview with The Sun in 2000 for an article on people who had lived to see three centuries. She said there was "everything there that a person could want." She added, "There used to be streetcars -- what a wonderful way that was for getting around."

But even in her senior years, Mrs. Keesey seemed to do just fine getting around in her car. She passed her last driving test at age 95.

She probably would have continued using her Buick were it not for her concern that a court would blame her for any accidents because of her age, said a son, Horace Keesey III of York.

"She was driving very well at 100," Mr. Keesey said. "She was driving a Buick Electra, which was fairly old. It was huge. I can remember going to the mechanic. ... He said, `You don't fix this. You buy a new one.'"

Time was slowing her, but even at 104, she appeared "a tall, elegant woman with white hair and the erect posture of a military officer -- or a queen," according to the article in The Sun.

Mrs. Keesey conceded that increasingly there were things she had to forgo.

"I used to read a lot, but it's gotten harder," she said. "I need a magnifying glass to read the newspaper ... but I've got no use for the Internet. My mind's closed on that one -- it would bother my eyes."

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. today at Broadmead, 13801 York Road.

Mrs. Keesey is also survived by two other children, daughter Mary K. Pelletier of Santa Monica, Calif., and son James C. Keesey of Salem, Ore.; six grandchildren; a stepgrandchild; and nine great-grandchildren.

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