Mary A. Fairley

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 3:00pm

Mary Alice Vannah Fairley died three days after her 102nd birthday on Aug. 17, 2018 at the Gregory Wing  of St. Andrews Village in Boothbay Harbor. 

She was born on Aug. 14, 1916, at home in East Boothbay the elder daughter of Everett M. Vannah and Lillian Stoddard Vannah.  She and her sister, Virginia were raised in a close loving family where Mary Alice was called “Sister.” She and Ginny attended local schools and enjoyed friends and neighbors, activities like skating, sledding and swimming, and  grandparents living on the other side of the house.  Mary Alice graduated Bates College in 1938.  She and Virginia then began teaching in Winterport for several years.

Mary Alice married William E. Fairley in 1942.  They had one daughter, Frances. They lived in several places out of Maine, then Dexter and Rockport before returning to East Boothbay where they had met. He died in December of 1949. Mary Alice renewed her teaching credentials and went back to teaching junior high in Rockland. She moved  on to Westfield, Massachusetts in 1952 teaching 5th and 6th grade for 30 years at the Abner Gibbs School.

She retired to East Boothbay in 1982 after having taken time from her career to care for each of her parents. She spent time helping other family members recover from illness and injury. In her family home on School Street she enjoyed family times (especially as the great-grandchildren came along), visits from distant family and friends, neighbors, walking in the village and at Ocean Point, trips with family and friends, reading, crosswords, knitting and crocheting. 

Mary Alice joined the East Boothbay Methodist Church which she had attended all her life when in town.  She worked in their Mustard Seed Thrift Shop, was a member of the Women’s Society and also served as the treasurer of the church.

Mary Alice was predeceased by her husband William E. Fairley, his mother, his brother and sisters, her parents, her sister Virginia Vannah Treat and brother-in-law Joshua Treat lll, niece Linda Treat, and the mother of her great-grandchildren, Robin Bickford. 

She is survived by her daughter, Frances and husband Stuart Sherburne; grandson, William F. (Bill) Sherburne and his children Noah and Lillian; grandson, Scott Sherburne and his partner Tracy Gauthier; several nieces, nephews and many cousins.

Through her life she was loving, hardworking, diligent, strong willed and independent, dispensing good advice and using a wonderfully dry wit.  She was a life long avid reader and an excellent cook making jam, relish, and wonderful bread and rolls.

In later life she became legally blind, eventually losing the ability to read, cook, and see faces or gestures. She also lost many of her friends, older and younger. She missed her eyesight, driving a car, books, cooking, being independent, and even using the phone. She did enjoy Talking Books for the Blind.  She liked listening to people read aloud to her in her last months at the Gregory Wing and requested some of her old favorites.  Mary Alice (“Sister”) will be greatly missed by her immediate and extended family and friends.

There will be a small memorial service to be decided later. 

Anyone wishing to share memories or condolences may do so at

Anyone wishing to make a donation in her name please consider the Boothbay Region Student Aid Fund, P.O. Box 293, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538.