Mary Partridge

Memorial Service

11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Friday, May 10, 2024
Grace Espiscopal Church
Madison, New Jersey, United States

Obituary of Mary B Partridge

Mary Burke Partridge, better known as Missy, passed away peacefully on March 28th at Fellowship Village in Basking Ridge, NJ.


Generous with her time and blessed with persistence and an infectious enthusiasm, Missy had a positive impact on those who knew her and the organizations that meant so much to her.  She loved time with family and friends, a long walk with a dog, and a backhand down the line.


Born on April 7, 1945, in Summit, NJ, Missy was the youngest of three children born to Coleman and Mary Burke. She attended Short Hills Country Day and then Kent Place School, graduating from the latter in 1963.  She then attended Vassar College, playing field hockey and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1967. While at Vassar, she met David Partridge, then attending Princeton, and they were married in December of 1967.  


Living in Newport, RI while David served in the Navy, Missy received a Master’s in Education from Wheelock College in ‘68 and taught kindergarten.  The couple then relocated to New Jersey, settling in Madison in 1971.  Caroline and Sam were born in ’71 and ’74, respectively, and in 1980, Missy and David moved to Brookside, where they would remain for 40+ years.


Known as someone who never sat still, Missy was most content at her family’s property in Oxford, NY.  As a girl, she learned an appreciation of the outdoors, a love of gardening from her mother Mary, and a tenacious competitiveness honed through countless competitions with siblings, cousins and friends.  After starting a family, she hosted a group of friends on the 4th of July that became a tradition lasting 45 years. Coupled with decades of summers and countless family reunions, Oxford filled her life with happiness and great memories.


Missy's greatest passion was education.  A dedicated alumna of Kent Place, in 1985 she became the first woman to serve as Chair of the Board of Trustees.  She later served as Director of Alumnae Relations and traveled the country on behalf of her alma mater.  Missy was also a long-time board member of St Philips’s Academy, a charter school in Newark that has impacted countless lives. Lastly, since 1994, she served as a trustee of Hamilton College, continuing a family relationship with the school that dates back over a century.


Missy was also active at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison, where she served on the Vestry and was a passionate member, official or otherwise, of the Welcoming Committee.  She was a fixture of Stewardship campaigns and turned volunteering for the yearly rummage sale into a part-time job.  An animal lover, she also had decades-long relationships with the Raptor Trust and the Seeing Eye, through her work with the Jeffery Trust charitable foundation.


If she needed a few peaceful moments, she would find them in the garden.  She spent hours there, both in Brookside and in Oxford, often with her mother as an observant consultant.  Naturally, she was active with the Brookside Garden Club as well as the Garden Club of Morristown, of which she served as President in the 2000’s.


A golfer since a young age, she played and competed into her 50s at Morris County Golf Club.  But she thrived on the tennis court, winning numerous club championships, including several mixed doubles titles with David.  Memorably, after rallying to win her first singles title, she jumped in the pool to celebrate.


Notoriously overscheduled, she was still usually up for trying something new. She went hot-air ballooning in Tanzania, followed monarch butterflies in Mexico, and did several polar plunges into the Atlantic on New Year’s Eve in Groton, CT.  She drove an ambulance for the local first aid squad, served Thanksgiving meals at the Brookside fire station, and every Christmas taught a class on how to make boxwood trees.


The friendships and connections she made meant the world to her. Through handwritten notes, emails, texts, or phone calls, she was there with encouragement, support, empathy, or just a few minutes of her time.  She celebrated others’ accomplishments, championed their causes and shared in their grief.  Those close to Missy recall her warmth, down-to-earth nature, and inclusivity combined with a sparkling smile and gracious generosity.  She loved a good laugh and relished her time with friends.


Still, family was most important. She kept in touch with multiple generations of her extended clan and was a font of information about her relatives. She was a proud grandmother, and Mopsy, as her four granddaughters called her, was ready for any adventure.  She made art and cookies, explored the coast of Maine, shared her joy in gardening, and read many a book. She was so proud of them and she treasured the moments when the family was all together.  With a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face, she’d happily say, “Oh, this is so much fun.” Yes, it truly was.


Missy is survived by David, her husband of 56+ years; her daughter Caroline (Greg) and her daughters Zoe and Gillian; and her son Sam (Heather) and his daughters Kate and Amelia.  She was predeceased by her parents Coleman and Mary as well as her brothers Dan and Coley.

A memorial service will be held at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison, NJ at 11 am on Friday, May 10th.  Donations in her honor can be made to The Raptor Trust or St. Philip’s Academy.  Condolences may be sent to David Partridge at 1127 Fellowship Road, Basking Ridge, NJ  07920.

Share Your Memory of