Mary Stewart Hammond Allen of New York City and Edgartown died peacefully at home on Dec. 1, 2022, after a brief fight with lung cancer. She was 82 years old.
Born in Richmond, Va., to the Rev. Dallas Kirk and Mary Elizabeth Stewart Hammond, Mary Stewart grew up in Roanoke, Va., and later, Baltimore, Md., where she graduated from the Bryn Mawr School ’58 and Goucher College ’68. From 1948 to 1952, she and her family were early pioneers in television with the first integrated broadcast TV series in the nation, “The Treasure Chest,” co-produced and directed by her mother, featuring Mary Stewart, her brothers, and parents each week. She then went on to be a model, a sports journalist for the Baltimore Sun, a writer-producer of spots for Maryland Public Television, a writer-producer of national television with John Waters as her cameraman, and an editor and talk show host under the pseudonym Bonnie Randall for radio station WAYE in Baltimore. She found ways of being active in politics both on a local and national level, from her involvement in the civil rights movement and in the anti-Vietnam movement to running for local office. She considered political volunteer work a form of community service for the larger national community.
Mary Stewart trained herself to be an architectural historian, and served the community of Princeton by rescuing many of the university and seminary’s Victorian homes, including a Richard Morris Hunt home, from demolition. She later was a self-employed interior designer, and excelled at creating beautiful homes in Princeton, Manhattan, and Martha’s Vineyard. Each residence exhibited architectural and period accuracy through her use of color and a mix of American antiques tempered by a touch of the modern. Her home on the Vineyard was featured in Yankee Magazine. But poetry was the art form dearest to her heart, and where she did her most important work. A recipient of fellowships at both the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, Mary Stewart was best known as a psychologically astute poet whose work appeared widely in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Paris Review, the Yale Review, and other distinguished journals, anthologies, and in her own two books, “Out of Canaan,” and “Entering History,” published by W.W. Norton. She was also a Master Class teacher of poetry and a private manuscript editor, working with many published writers and poets.
In 1988, she became one of the first of 20 women notable in their respective fields to be accepted in the Century Association, along with Jacqueline Onassis, Beverly Sills, and Brooke Astor. Her other beloved spot was the Colony Club, where she was a member for over 50 years. Most recently within the club, she was an active member of the International Visitors Committee, where she made lifelong friends with the wives of ambassadors from around the world.
Her many interests, zest for life, talent for friendship, and unbounded energy are an example of how life should be lived. A love of the theater, ballet and tap dance will live on through her family.
Predeceased by her beloved husband Arthur Yorke Allen, her parents, and two brothers, she is survived by her daughter from a first marriage, Loring Allen (née Towner); son-in-law Stuart S. Randall; grandsons Nolan and Andrew Panno; brother-in-law William (“Hap”) Allen; sisters-in-law Eleanor (“Dee”) and Ethel Allen; sister-in-law Patricia Lynn Hammond; brother William A. Hammond and his wife Sandra; four nieces and nephews, many cousins, and a multitude of devoted friends.
A service of remembrance will be held on Monday, Dec. 19, at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York City at 3 o’clock. See church website for Zoom link to the service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions in her name to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Clemente Course in the Humanities, Works & Process, Inc., or the American Cancer Society.