Vineyard Haven – Mary “Schatzi…

Vineyard Haven – Mary “Schatzie” Gibbon Clarke, of Gloucester and Vineyard Haven, died peacefully, surrounded by her beloved children, on March 8, 2018. She was 86 and had battled Parkinson’s disease for 10 years. She never lost her enthusiasm for life and never allowed her illness to define her; her strength and determination were an inspiration to everyone she knew.
Mary was born in Philadelphia on February 28, 1932, and attended Oberlin College, graduating with a major in sociology in 1953. She received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 1955 and developed a private practice at the Enon Center in Beverly, Mass., from 1980 to 1990. She also worked as a therapist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Mental Health Department in Hanover, N.H.; the North Shore Counseling Center in Beverly, Mass.; the Associated Family Counselors in Wenham, Mass.; Martha’s Vineyard Community Services; and the Epilepsy Foundation in Sarasota, Fla.
After her retirement, Mary volunteered at HAWC (Help for Abused Women and Children) in Salem, Mass., and Beacon Hospice in Charlestown, Mass. Both as a professional and a volunteer, she practiced in many capacities, working with individuals and couples and facilitating groups.
She married John Murdoch Clarke in 1955. Their first child, Martha, was born in Boston in 1958. As a young family, propelled by a sense of adventure and commitment, they made the first of many moves: to Athens, Greece, in 1960 where John taught at Athens College for three years, and their daughter, Annie, and their son, Eric, were born. John then accepted a position as principal of the International School in Kabul, Afghanistan. Through a USIS (United States Information Service) project, Mary taught English to Afghan midwives and also helped organize cottage industries that produced silk shifts and beautiful embroidered cloth. Their last child, Mark, was born in Kabul in 1965.
The Clarkes returned to the United States and lived in Manchester-by-the-Sea in Massachusetts. Mary became very politically active in the Vietnam anti-war movement. In the spirit of the times, they moved to Acworth, N.H., and founded an alternative school with several other families. Mary also operated a cross-country ski lodge, cooking and baking all the meals — and raising her four children at the same time. From there they traveled to Hanover, N.H., and started the Moose Mountain Cross Country Ski Lodge.
Finally, John and Mary moved to Martha’s Vineyard and bought the Lothrop Merry House on the Vineyard Haven harbor. Here they welcomed bed and breakfast guests for the next 25 years. They also ran a sailboat charter business, first with the Friendship sloop Irene and then with their Alden ketch Laissez Faire (which they were able to sail to the Caribbean and charter there in the winter).
Their final move was to Gloucester where Mary cared for John until his death in 2000. She spent the next years playing tennis and tending her garden. Her annual Poppy Party in May was legendary. She took sculpture classes and wrote poetry. She read extensively and started a book group that lasted for many years. She was a woman of both adventure and compassion. Everyone will remember her sense of humor as well as her ability to listen with respect and kindness. She was a caring and loving mother, deeply committed to her family above all else.
And she cherished her special cat, Baby.
Mary was predeceased by her husband, John; her sister, Marjorie Gibbon Masek of Vineyard Haven, Mass.; and her brother, John Gibbon of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. She is survived by her sister, Alice Saltzman of Costa Mesa, Calif.; her daughters, Martha Clarke of Newburyport, Mass., and Annie Clarke Margetson of Gloucester, Mass.; her sons, Eric of Middleton, Mass., and Mark of Vineyard Haven, Mass.; a daughter-in-law, Nya Clarke; three grandchildren, Rose Margetson and Ella and Xavier Clarke; and a niece and many nephews.
A celebration of Mary’s life will be held at the Sharksmouth Estate in Manchester-by-the-Sea on June 16, 2018, at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Women for Women International, Global Support Center, P.O. Box 9224, Islip, NY 11722. For online condolences and register book, please visit
The Pike-Newhall Funeral Home, 61 Middle Street, Gloucester, is assisting the family with arrangements.

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