Remembering Mary Ann Knowles as Someone who had a Passion for Life

February 17, 2017


Mary Ann Knowles

Mary Ann Knowles

by Len Lathrop

Recalling Mary Ann, with John at her side, rallying Hudson voters to build a new library, is a distant memory, especially as many were just learning of her passing at recent deliberative sessions.  These were the same meetings where she stood tall for her passion.


Knowles, 70, died Feb. 6 after being diagnosed in late December with a second bout of cancer.


For the ones who knew Mary Ann and for those who did not have the honor, what follows is “Mary Ann Cared,” a special and moving tribute, from the man who knew her best, her husband of 32 years and her soulmate, John.


Mary Ann Cared


Mary Ann cared more for the world around her than for herself.


Mary Ann cared about others before herself. She excelled at choosing and giving gifts, and in being sensitive to the concerns of those around her.


Mary Ann cared deeply about politics and the good it can accomplish, and she worked for the good of all her community.  In her adopted town of Hudson she was a fierce advocate for instituting public kindergarten and against the disruption of the “Circumferential Highway.” Her caring was clear to her neighbors, and she was elected to serve as a local Library Trustee and three times to serve as a State Representative. She worked for years to build a new library in Hudson and then to finally establish a Senior Center. As a state legislator her proudest moment was passage of the law that brought marriage equality to New Hampshire. She also worked to support campaigns for public office at all levels, from Selectman and School Board to President of the United States.


Mary Ann cared about her family, and always cheered us on. She supported John’s decades of singing in the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, even when it conflicted with her own interests.  One of her greatest joys was seeing her son grow into a caring adult and find a wonderful wife in his soul mate. She also loved her cats, especially her little Siamese Cocoa.


Mary Ann cared about nature and animals. She was a member of several conservation organizations, and particularly expressed her love of elephants in her vocal support for the Sheldrick elephant orphanage in Kenya. Her collection of plush animals ranged from elephants, lions and turtles to Opus and tribbles.


Mary Ann cared about beauty, from Impressionist paintings and the grace of ballet dancers to wonderful natural vistas.


Mary Ann cared about learning and widening her horizons. Through travel, especially through Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel, for which she worked for 30 years) she was able to experience widely different places and cultures, such as Masai villages, Kenyan women’s collectives and Maori sea craft. She eventually achieved her bucket list item of visiting all seven continents, from Istanbul to Hong Kong, England to Russia, Alaska to New Orleans, the Galapagos and Machu Picchu, Kenya and Egypt, and in the last two years, Antarctica and Australia and New Zealand.


Mary Ann cared about doing things right, and she was creative in many areas. As a writer in various forms, she wrote simply, clearly, and often passionately. She enjoyed cooking, especially modifying recipes, or making things up from scratch. (“I am master of the crock pot.”) Her aesthetic sense showed itself in fashion and in decorating her homes to make them warm and welcoming.


Mary Ann cared about home: sitting in her sun room, watching birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and the occasional deer, turkey, fox, opossum, or muskrat; feeding baby raccoons on the porch in the summer; sitting by the fireplace in the basement family room in winter.


Perhaps most of all, Mary Ann cared about reading. Two early milestones in her life were her much anticipated first library card and earning her story-telling badge as a Brownie Scout. She was an avid supporter of libraries, and in the later years of her life, of books on her Nook. Her favorite authors ranged from Dickens to Stephen King, Robert Parker and Donna Leon.


In all parts and stages of her life, Mary Ann cared.


Visiting hours will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Dumont-Sullivan Funeral Home on Ferry Street.