CABOT – Mary Alice Kinney of Falmouth, Mass., died peacefully on August 1, with her daughter and son-in-law by her side at their home in Vermont. She spent the last two months of her life with them in one of her favorite places, and died one day after her 101st birthday.
She was born July 31, 1919, in Princeton, N.J., the second of three daughters born to Dr. Joseph S. and Mary Alice (Robley) Vanneman. Her father served as the primary doctor in Princeton for many years, and Mary Alice often accompanied him on his house calls. During her childhood, the family continued the tradition of summertime visits to Cape Cod. After spending several summers in Menauhant, they built their summer house in Davisville in 1923. Their surrounding summer community grew as relatives and friends from Princeton settled in Davisville. Enjoying swimming, sailing, tennis, and picnics to Washburn’s Island, Mary Alice built lifelong friendships there with many cousins, friends, and other extended family.
After graduation from Princeton High School in 1936, Mary Alice followed in her parents’ footsteps by continuing her education at Dickinson College in Carlyle, Pa. While there she met James (Jim) Kinney, a mathematics major and member of the college’s football team, who would soon become the love of her life. Mary Alice graduated from Dickinson in 1940.
Mary Alice was married to James Kinney in 1941. She gave birth to their first child, Michael, in 1944 and moved with him to her parents’ farmhouse in Davisville while Jim served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. After the war ended, Jim was hired to teach math and coach at Lawrence High School, and the family enjoyed raising pigs, chickens, and vegetables on the farm in Davisville. In 1954 Mary Alice gave birth to their second child, Mary Ann, and soon after the Kinneys moved back down Davisville Road into the original summer house that had been renovated for year-round use.
Mary Alice had a lifelong interest in getting to know and in helping other people, and as a busy young mother she found the time to volunteer in a wide range of efforts in Falmouth. She was one of the oldest members of the First Congregational Church in Falmouth, and served on most of their committees, including church school superintendent, head of the Vestry Circle, long time choir member, and visited the elderly and infirm while on the lay committee. Other volunteer service included the Falmouth Nursing Association as board member and president, Falmouth Hospital volunteer, Scout leader and organizer, library volunteer and Davisville Association member.
Mary Alice worked for many years as an assistant at the Falmouth Public Libraries. She held a lifelong appreciation for good literature (ranging from mysteries to poetry to travel narratives) and was always able to offer suggestions of a good read to members of her book group or visitors to her home.
By nature warm, friendly and accessible, Mary Alice loved catching up with visitors on the shady porch of her home in Davisville, and was generous in opening it up to visitors: Fresh-Air kids, vacationing family, wedding guests, and student groups on field trips. When her parents and her own husband began to experience health difficulties as they got older, Mary Alice supported them with love and care.
In her golden years Mary Alice turned more of her energies into supporting her children and grandchildren in their various projects and pursuits. She was an inveterate communicator and kept up with her family with a welcome array of greeting cards, poems and postcards. She was also an enthusiastic (and patient) participant in many of her family’s adventures, despite her advancing age and the occasional uncertainties of schedule or accommodation that sometimes accompanied them. She was cheered and energized by being with the people she loved, and the steady love and caring which she extended to her friends and family in turn buoyed and supported them.
Mary Alice was predeceased by her beloved husband of 40 years, James Kinney, as well as by her two siblings, Margaret Vanneman Moses and Eleanor Vanneman Sweeney. Mary Alice is survived by her two children, J. Michael Kinney and his wife Elin of East Falmouth, Mass., and Mary Ann Tormey and her husband Chris of Cabot. Mary Alice was enormously proud of her grandchildren and was their friend and supporter as each of them grew from infancy to adulthood. They are Megan (Kinney) Bloomfield and her husband Peter of Norwell, Mass.; Eben Tormey and his wife Laura of Portsmouth, N.H.; David Tormey and his wife Arlette of Truckee, Calif., and Sam Tormey and his partner Tori Heath of Montpelier. In addition, Mary Alice was blessed to get to know seven great-grandchildren during the last years of her life. They are Molly and Ben Bloomfield, Nolan and Mae Alice Tormey, and Jack, Margot and Frances Tormey.
The family would like to thank the many caregivers who assisted Mary Alice during the last months of her life. Since 2018 the staff at Atria Woodbriar Park in Falmouth provided her with a comfortable and friendly home-away-from-home, and the VNA Hospice of Cape Cod provided crucial medical support and daily personal care. Special thanks and appreciation go out to the nurses, aides, and doctor from Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice, who were so caring, sensitive, and professional during the last weeks of Mary Alice’s life spent in Vermont.
A burial service as well as a celebration of Mary Alice’s life to include friends and family will be held at a later date. For those who wish to, contributions in Mary Alice’s memory may be made to VNA Hospice of Cape Cod at 67 Ter Heun Drive, Falmouth MA 02540, Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice at 600 Granger Road, Barre VT 05641, or The James C. Kinney Memorial Scholarship c/o Scholarship Association of Falmouth at PO Box 369, Falmouth MA 02541.