Marion Richards Wise

Text size

Marion Richards Wise

December 16, 1919 - September 11, 2018

Sorrento Marion Richards Wise, of Sorrento, died peacefully at home on September 11, 2018, at the age of 98.
She was born in Minneapolis, MN in 1919, the daughter of John Augustus Richards and Marion Hill Richards.
Marion grew up in Minneapolis and in Toronto, Ontario where her father managed Canadian operations for Retail Credit Co., now Equifax. She graduated from Havergal College, a Church of England preparatory school for girls in Toronto, and received a B.A. from Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, in 1941. Indicative of her lifelong love of education, she later received a certificate in landscape design from Radcliffe Seminars in Cambridge, MA, and studied art history, English literature, and Canadian history, and culture as a graduate student at the University of Maine at Orono, as well as poetry at the College of the Atlantic.
While an undergraduate at Mt. Holyoke, she met William M. Wise, Jr., a senior at Amherst College. The attraction was instant; their romance blossomed. She and Bill were married at her parents' home in Toronto in August 1941. They spent part of their honeymoon in the Katahdin area and at Petit Manan --- for Marion the beginning of a deep affection for Maine, its mountains, coast and people that lasted for the rest of her life.
After their wedding, Bill and Marion settled in Cambridge, MA. In 1943, Bill was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy, and soon left for the Pacific War; Marion returned to Toronto. Their son, Bill III, was born while Bill, Jr. was at sea. After World War II, Bill and Marion lived in Hingham, MA, Chatham, NJ, and again in Hingham. Two daughters, Sally and Ellen, joined the family. They all spent part of almost every summer in Maine. Bill and Marion moved full-time to Sorrento in 1976 after Bill retired from the Travelers Insurance Co. in Boston.
Marion was an extraordinary mother of three children. She was also quite attuned to the changing role of women in American society. She began working in the Art Department of Wheaton College, Norton, MA in the mid-1960s where she also taught art history. Subsequently Marion fashioned a career lecturing on the relationship between art history and landscape design. She traveled throughout New England and as far south as Richmond, VA, giving talks to garden clubs and other groups in which she presented visual comparisons of landscape paintings to actual landscapes. Many visitors to Sorrento, enjoyed her beautiful gardens at "Windfall." Marion's interests were limitless and she pursued them with skill, grace and style.
Marion is survived by her husband; son, William M. Wise III and wife, Ronna Freiberg, of Washington D.C.; daughter, Sally Wise of Sorrento; and daughter, Ellen Sivon and husband, James Sivon, of Bethesda, MD; grandson, John Wise and wife, Maryanne Wise, of Fairfax, VA; grandson, James Wise and Sara Bauleke of Arlington, VA; granddaughter, Marguerite Allen and husband, Greg Allen, of Brooklyn, NY; granddaughter, Julia Murillo and husband, Christian Murillo, of Washington, D.C.; and great-grandchildren, Caroline and William Wise of Fairfax, VA.
Friends may call at the Bragdon-Kelley Funeral Home, 215 Main St., Ellsworth, on Sunday, September 16, 2-4 p.m. Burial will be in the Doanes Point Cemetery in Sorrento. A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Redeemer, Sorrento, in August 2019. Contributions in Marion's memory may be made to the Mt. Holyoke College Art Museum, Lower Lake Rd., South Hadley, MA 01075.
Published on September 14, 2018
Send flowers
in memory of Marion
See more

Obituary published in

Arrangements by



Print Guestbook

Share your condolences and special memories.
The guestbook expires on December 12, 2019.

Share a message

3 posts

Sep 18, 2018
Marion was a wonderful lady whom I had the honor to be a caregiver for her and Bill for a very short time. I am sorry for your loss.
Melanie Reed
Sep 14, 2018
I vividly remember spending some time in her beautiful gardens in Sorrento as a child. My heart goes out to the family during this difficult time. Sorry for your loss.
Kathy Stoddard RN
Sep 14, 2018
So sorry for your loss of Marion. I so enjoyed my visits to her home. Her gardens are breathtaking!