Mary Virginia Morgan was born in 1897 and was a lifelong resident of Groton, Conn. She did not have much interest in typical childhood activities, even running to hide in the barn when her doll loving playmates sought her out. Young Mary preferred the company of her grandfather Nelson Morgan who was the town clerk, where she would sit in his office with a book, yet listen to the stories of visiting town folk for hours on end. She would travel to school on the ferry, crossing the Thames river to New London where she was an attentive student and graduated from the Williams Memorial School in 1916 and later Connecticut College
Mary was a rather small woman in stature but made up for that with a tremendous presence of a rugged individual and a great sense of humor. She had a dramatic flair and a clear strong voice that projected her straightforward message. She was a natural actress but declined an offer to go to New York and become the protege of Beatrice Mansfield because the theater was an inappropriate vocation for a very religious young lady. Mary would never wear the era’s popular pantsuits or feel that any woman should, but she developed a strong affinity for large wide brimmed hats and was rarely seen without one. It is said that she disdained the women’s liberation movement yet was liberal minded and given her strong personality was not about to be ruled by any man !
Mary became a teacher with stints in various Groton schools and was also a home-bound instructor. Despite her diminutive size she handily kept even the most challenging students under her autocratic control and eventually became an administrator. In 1961 she retired but then soon admitted “It was an extremely weak moment” with a laugh, “I recovered immediately.” In Act Two, she played the roles of a world traveler, speaker, lecturer and also wrote over 500 columns for several local newspapers. Mary loved history and along with her good friend Eva Butler, was a founding member of the I C R C in 1965 and served as our first vice president and then president for over seventeen years. She also founded the Noank Historical Society in the small and quaint village where she lived for most of her life and is fondly remembered there as “The Dutchess of Noank”
Mary lived a rich and celebrated life with no regrets and was well celebrated in later years with large and memorable birthday parties. Having survived three husbands, she died in the spring of 1988 at the age of 90 and even though she gave up the stage, she never gave up on directing her life as she saw fit
Please donate to the ICRC in memory of Mary Virginia Goodman