CHESHIRE – Mary A. (Beausoleil) Priest, of Cheshire, Conn., died peacefully at home surrounded by her family on February 21, 2021, at the age of 95.
She is survived by nine of her children: Frances Smith (Michael), Kathlyn Johnson (Robert), John Priest (Patricia), Maureen Rigney, Laura Brennan (Richard), Susan Tabor (James), Raymond Priest, Jr., Matthew Priest, and Mary Vosburgh (Jeffrey), plus 24 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. She is also survived by four brothers, Joseph Beausoleil (Patricia), William Beausoleil, Rev. Charles Beausoleil, and John Beausoleil (Donna), and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Raymond Priest; a son, James Priest; and a grandchild, Tanner Priest.
Mary was born in Hollywood, Florida, on December 12, 1925. She spent much of her childhood in New York, N.Y. and East Haven, Conn. At a time when few women were pursuing higher education, she graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Geology. While at Hunter, she excelled in competitive sports, especially fencing, in which she won many awards. Those who faced her on the tennis court years later would not be surprised to learn of her success with a sword. Never one to limit herself to a single pursuit, Mary loved to try new things and often shared stories about the many jobs she held. She and her husband Ray owned the Ray an Beau Cafe in New Haven, Conn., before moving to Cheshire in 1952 to raise a family. Mary taught Physical Education and Science at Wilcox Technical School in Meriden, Conn., where she was widely respected and admired by her students. A true nature lover, Mary was especially fond of the ocean, exploring beaches from the coast of Maine to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with her family. She and Ray also loved exploring the seas on their sailboat, The Tempest. Everywhere she traveled, she would say, “I could live here!”
In 1990, Ray and Mary sold their home that they had built on Forest Lane and retired to Port St. Lucie, Florida, to enjoy the sunshine. Mary loved to play tennis, playing the game well into her eighties and regularly beating opponents half her age. In 2019, Mary returned to Cheshire to be closer to her family. She will be fondly remembered for her enthusiasm, her sense of humor, and her zest for life. She will be greatly missed by countless friends and family, who are grateful to have known her and laughed with her, for she could always be counted on to bring her sense of humor wherever she went.
The family is truly grateful to daughters, Kathlyn Johnson and Frances Smith, for the compassionate, loving care they gave to their mother. And the first grandchild, Sarah Wiese, who never left her side in her final days. Her other grandchildren, who will miss her dearly, include Michael Smith, Bridget Smith, Matthew Smith, Seth Priest, Christian Wiese, Kurt Wiese, Andrew Johnson, Joseph Johnson, Jess Priest, John Priest, Robin Priest, Joshua Rigney, Amy Rigney Chansouk, Cassie Rigney, Leah Brennan, Rachel Brennan, Reilly Braunstein, Janelle Biondi, Ryan Priest, Tristan Priest, Danielle Vosburgh, and Chelsea Vosburgh.
A celebration of life for Mrs. Priest will be private and at the convenience of the family. The Alderson-Ford Funeral Home of Cheshire, 615 South Main St., 06410, is assisting the family with the arrangements. To view these arrangements online, and to share a photo or an online condolence, please visit www. fordfh.com.