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Mrs Eileen Coly in the 1940s

Memorial for Eileen Coly (1916-2013)
PF Lyceum Blog #34
Posted December 23rd, 2013

On November 18th, an amazing individual passed from our midst, Mrs. Eileen Coly, who stood at the helm of the Parapsychology Foundation for nearly fifty years. On November 30th, friends and family gathered at the Eileen J. Garrett Research Library of the Parapsychology Foundation in Greenport, New York, out on the North Fork of Long Island, to remember the woman who had touched their lives as a mother, a grandmother, a friend and a colleague, and as the heart and soul of the Foundation. What follows are the eulogies that were given that day.

Welcome to the Memorial
By Lisette Coly

Welcome dear Friends and Family of Eileen Coly. You all offer her family great solace by being gathered here to day within the Parapsychology Foundation’s Eileen J. Garrett Research Library which she lovingly nurtured during her tenure as the Foundation’s President from 1970 until, unbelievably, her retirement in 2011. Her work at the Foundation was an important part of a lifetime that spanned some 97 and a half years. Thank you very much for honoring her with your presence at this memorial celebrating someone who, I think you will agree, was both a great lady and an over all unforgettable “character.” With very few family members, my family has been blessed to be able to pick and choose those whom we consider to be family, rather than being stuck with some questionable and possibly objectionable relations. You all who are here today are our family.

My mother went by many names, which to a large measure, signified different parts of her persona. Formally, she used her given name of Eileen Garrett Coly, which for the science of parapsychology, immediately pegged her as the daughter of Eileen J. Garrett, the famed psychic, author, and Parapsychology Foundation’s founder. To her intimates—those who she let into her inner circle while maintaining otherwise a British hauteur—she was known as Babs. To me, she was always “Mama” even while working at the PF. I hope I always projected professionalism by referring to her along with my co-workers and close colleagues as “Mrs. C.,” unless under extreme duress when, upon occasion, I would slip and revert to calling out “Mama!” which always amused her. Upon the birth of her grandchildren she came to be known as “Muzzie” taken from a short-lived old television sitcom, The Pruitts of Southhampton. She chose to reject the title of “Grandma” as not quite a propos, she thought, for the heir to her flamboyant mother whose reputation had been immortalized as the actual role model for the character Auntie Mame in the book by Patrick Dennis, who had worked for Garrett alongside my mother at Creative Age Press in the late 1940s. My mother embraced the nickname “Muzzie” and in later years, more often than not, was proud to have it used by family and close friends.

My mother was born in April of 1916. Her parents divorced within months of her birth. She took the name of Garrett’s third and final husband when Garrett vowed to marry no more after three failed attempts at marriage and a widowhood, all experienced by the age of 25. She was destined to accompany her mother on her path as an internationally known trance medium and author. Educated in boarding school, upon graduation my Mother assumed the role of personal secretary and traveling companion to her Mother, which meant she crossed the Atlantic with regularity from 1932 on all the famed ocean liners of the day, the Ile de France, the Majestic, the Normandie, etc. The memories of these crossings always stayed with her because of yet another nickname bestowed upon her by my Dad, “Miss Berengaria,” signaling her favorite ship and her passion for the memories of those days. She shared with me, confidentially, that all the really good looking men traveled in steerage and that it was best to go slumming from First Class to find them, but even better to wait for the best crème of the crop of masculinity when, after 3am, the men from the engine room men were allowed on deck. It was advice I wisely took to heart when the opportunity beckoned.

Living in London, and New York in the 1930s, my Mother often recalled looking out her window overlooking the building of Rockefeller Center: I still have pictures of that on-going construction in the family scrapbooks. She frequented all the speakeasies of the day and dated the son of a well-known bootlegger. Apart from being a gangster who she remembered as a “pet,” she would recall that he had elegant manners, was quite correct and also very useful when it came to keeping her mother’s bar well-stocked. She shared memories of the famed Cotton Club in Harlem, of taking the L uptown to go dancing, and overall thrived in her bi-continental life style.

Apart from London they were often based on the French Riviera as well where she holds the title—complete with family photos as proof—of being one of the first ladies to water-ski off Juan-les-Pins, although she had to forego taking the jump ramp too often after she ruefully admitted that she once sat too far back on her skis and caught her bottom on the jump ledge, an event that made it difficult to sit down for weeks. She continued, however, to snow ski in Megeve and Chamonix.

She was in Germany during the so-called “phony war” and felt very uncomfortable with those “frightening, goose-stepping Nazis.” She hastened her mother out of harm’s way back to the French Riviera before the actual outbreak of the war. But as France fell, she was separated from her mother, having been shipped back to London on one of the last trains out, while Garrett stayed behind with her long-time paramour.

It was in London, surviving the Blitz, that served to fashion her always steely resolve and “stiff upper lip,” a habit that served her well: she always met all of life’s adversities with a calm pragmatic demeanor. There in London she literally fell into the arms of a displaced French sailor who had just escaped France under the cover of a fishing boat fleeing from the French harbor of Brest while mining the harbor behind it for ultimate destruction before the German army’s occupation. The romantic story goes that she was getting off a London bus at Hyde Park corner when she tripped and fell into the arms of a good looking French sailor who spoke no English and yet she was fluent in French. The fact that she was a pick-up was somewhat obscured until I matured, the party line until then being that she had to help him learn English well enough so that he could join the RAF and fly a spitfire in the Battle of Britain. This accidental meeting led to a real life love story, complete with a wartime wedding and a marriage that lasted from 1941 until my Dad’s death in 1999.

My parents emigrated to the States in 1946, becoming naturalized citizens after my birth and the birth of my brother Robert. Very regretfully, my mother had to withstand the loss of her son due to Hodgkin’s Disease while he was still in his 30s, leaving behind her grandson Robert Coly. At my birth in—dare I admit—1950, she left the world of publishing for a tract house and motherhood in Valley Stream, Long Island. Eventually she moved our family to Westchester and then, when I was 16, she returned to full-time work once again as Garrett’s personal secretary at the Foundation, until she assumed the reins at Garrett’s death in 1970. What followed was a prolific professional life.

I would like to introduce at this time my best friend since first grade—let’s not do the math, but yes, of over fifty years—Sandy Miller, who currently serves as the Foundation’ s Vice-President. Sandy grew up along side me and, as my mother referred to her lovingly as her second daughter, she is well suited to share with you some of Eileen Coly’s professional accomplishments, before our family attempts to recall the essence of “Muzzie” the beloved wife, mother, and grandmother.

On Eileen Coly
By Sandra Miller

Condolences and praise from the parapsychological academic and research community have poured in from around the world, and continue to do so as the news travels of “Mama Coly’s” passing, as I called her growing up. You may have seen the binder consisting of over sixty messages from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, England, Germany, Greece, and the list goes on and on. There will be, no doubt, many dedications and memorials to come, with, of course, the Parapsychology Foundation taking the lead, sponsoring a major event in her honor at some future date.

In truth, though, our Board of Trustees intends to honor her life’s work best by continuing her efforts to support the science of parapsychology, its researchers, and its students of the paranormal the world over with the continuation of programs which she so ably administered. Several of our Board Members for whom I speak are here with us today, representing those who could not join us. Those here are the PF’s Treasurer, Anthony Fellin, as well as Board member Mac Craig, and, of course, you know both George and Anna Damalas, who also serve on the Board.

Dr. Carlos Alvarado—who served as the PF Chairman of Domestic and International Programs, on behalf of himself and his wife, Dr. Nancy Zingrone who was the Executive Editor of our International Journal of Parapsychology—said it best in his memorial blog about Mrs. C.: “When people think of the contributions of the Parapsychology Foundation during its history they tend to talk about Eileen Garrett. But they forget that Mrs. C. was President for more years than Garrett served, and that she led the PF well, continuing its well known program to support the field via grants, conferences and publications.”

Dr. Alvarado went on to say that “Mrs. C. was a no-nonsense person. She had a straightforward approach to life and a talent, as I saw more than once…”—as we have all seen—“to ‘cut through it’ when a decision had to be made about PF affairs. At the same time she was not dogmatic. She was willing to listen to opposing opinions and was known to change her views, or at least to give a fair chance to other ideas. I remember seeing this process many times when Mrs. C and Lisette discussed the PF. This was a hardworking mother and daughter team and their collaboration impacted profoundly and positively on the work of the Foundation for many years… Her work, sometimes invisible, was geared towards supporting the field in its scientific endeavors, a task she accomplished well and with modesty. Her contribution was recognized in 2001 when the Parapsychological Association granted her their Outstanding Career Award.”

One of psychology and parapsychology’s luminaries, Dr. Stanley Krippner, shared with Carlos his comments at Mrs. C’s passing saying “Eileen Coly was a faithful and generous supporter of our field. She received a lifetime achievement award and I dedicated a volume of Advances in Parapsychological Research to her. She was delightful company: I will remember her sense of humor and her keen insights whenever I see her photo or read her name. I was honored to have been close friends with her mother and the blessings continue because of my friendship with her daughter. How many people have had the blessing of enjoying the companionship of three generations of dynamic, attractive and brilliant women?”

Dr. Alvarado concluded his blog by saying “Eileen Coly’s contributions to the advancement of parapsychology are undeniable and of a magnitude that my brief comments do not acknowledge properly. Those of us who met her will also remember, and miss, her quiet and charming personality, aspects that enriched our lives and that will not be forgotten.”

When Dr. Robert Van de Castle, a Past-President of the Parapsychological Association, a grantee and friend of the Foundation, read Alvarado’s blog, he wrote the following comment that I would like to share with you now. He said:

“The field of parapsychology suffered a great loss with the passing of ‘Babs’ Coly. She was tutored well by her mother, Eileen Garrett, to understand the importance of the subject matter that was being supported by her mother. ‘Babs’ did not have the flashy, dramatic persona that her mother did, but she was able to exude a very warm ‘person-to-person’ atmosphere about her that was very comforting and reassuring. My ‘felt sense’ recall of what a possible conversation might have sounded like upon meeting her on any occasion in the past (and I did so at three of the annual PF conferences at which she presided: 1973, 1989, and 2008) would have gone something like this:
‘Well hello there, Bob, so good to see you! How are you doing? You come over here and sit down and tell me what sort of exciting work you have been engaged in.’

The last time that I had any reasonable length of time to talk with her was at the Utrecht conference in 2008. We wound up sitting in a corner having a drink together, and I almost felt as if she were flirting with me because she smiled so readily, looked so intently into my eyes, and exuded a sense of comfortable closeness.

She had been very supportive of some research that I had carried out with the Kuna Indians who lived on a string of islands in Panama. I made a half a dozen trips there to collect dreams and to carry out ESP testing with the students at the Junior High School there. Rather than the Zener cards, I employed special cards I created that contained stimulus pictures, such as a shark or conch shell, that would be familiar to the students residing on the San Blas Islands there. She instilled her appreciation of the importance of research learned from her mother forward to her daughter Lisette.

The field of Parapsychology has been incredibly enriched by the presence of these three remarkable women and the wonderful accumulation of ‘goddess’ energy that they have emitted and shared with all of us who have been supported so generously by them. They each have blessed the field in their unique, but overlapping, roles for well over half a century. As I raise my glass in tribute and appreciation to Babs, I feel I can hear the gentle click of her glass in response.”

I would like to close now with Eileen Coly’s own words as a final testament to her professional achievements. When interviewed for the volume Men and Women of Parapsychology: Personal Reflections, edited by Rosemarie Pilkington and recently reprinted and available now on Amazon as ESPRIT: Men and Women of Parapsychology, she has this to say:

“My main problem was that I had always been in her [Garrett’s] shadow. ‘Oh, this is my daughter, Babs.’ I had been used to this instant dismissal all my life … now little Babs had to come back, behind the desk, and start showing that little Babs had a mind of her own. Mostly I hope I’ve achieved a fair attitude.

The interdisciplinary exchange and the support to education in parapsychology are absolutely essential. We’ve got to spur the interest and add to the working knowledge of the youngsters because otherwise who is going to carry the banner? … The research must go on and someone who has anything important to offer and will do their very best should receive as much attention, and support as possible …

We can’t stop because we haven’t solved the mystery of psychic phenomena yet. Its got to be out there somewhere—but little by little the information is still being sifted and brought in.”

Yes, the work will continue, sadly without her, but well formed by her continued diligence in plowing fields originally sown by others before her. The answers to the questions raised by psychic functioning may never be fully revealed but certainly, Eileen Coly has left her mark on man’s continued endeavor for greater understanding of life’s mysteries.

On Eileen Coly as Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grandmother
By Lisette Coly

How does one encapsulate one’s feeling for a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and, in my case, colleague? I can’t even begin to try, knowing it is impossible. So let me share the one word that sums up her character and overall demeanor: “Steady.” My mother was always steady, never subject to fits and starts nor wide fluctuations in her range of emotion. There was a steadfast quality to her that provided one with a sense of security and dependability. This did not mean that she was boring by any means, just that one could always rely on her and know that she was always in your corner and always non-judgmental. Her life with her extraordinary out-of-the-norm mother brought her into contact with all manner of situations and types of people, an experience that stood her in good stead throughout her personal and professional lifetime. She was a very private person who did not suffer fools gladly and who had a well-honed—pardon the expression—BS meter that had her fast dismissing phonies and pretentious types. When, and if, she let you in past her English reserve, you were privileged to receive the full measure of her quiet and unassuming support and affection.

As a daughter, she was the consummate personal secretary and travel companion to a very unorthodox parent. She literally grew up with no family members—just Garrett and two steamer trunks, never a family home per se, just a string of hotel efficiencies and apartments in the company of a series of her mother’s husbands and paramours.

Basically, it was she and Garrett against the world. I often asked her how she managed to settle down after all that globe trotting and transatlantic travel and give it up for what I saw as a rather mundane family life in suburbia. She would laughingly state, “Well dear, I had had enough of sitting on bar stools and children don’t ask to be born and have to be subsequently cared for!” Lucky for my brother and I, she, along with my Dad, provided us the stability of a solid home life interspersed with whirlwind visits from my, shall we say, more exotic grandmother who would offer flashes of reminiscences that provided the clues that there was indeed more to Mrs. C. than was immediately apparent—bringing greater meaning to the expression that “still waters run deep.”

Speaking for my father, he idolized my mother. They were perfect foils for each other. Picture a charming and voluble Frenchman dovetailed with an equally charming—in her own fashion—English lady. For once England and France got along. When asked the secret of their long time love affair at their 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration, she responded “It just fit!” Yes, Bob and Babs were inseparable and while apart since 1999, I gain solace that they are no doubt reunited and picking up where they left off. A poem written on the occasion of their 50th by a long-time friend exemplified their bond: “In the midst of a Group, a horde or a mob, Spot hand-holding lovers? Must be Babs and Bob!”

Speaking for my deceased brother and myself, it is much more difficult for me to put into words what she meant to us. She was an unconventional mother as she herself did not have the tools at hand for motherhood, having been in some fashion I think, the parent to her mother. The story goes that, upon my birth as the first-born, she didn’t know how to handle a baby and went for two weeks coating me in Johnson’s baby oil like a little greased piglet, fearful of that first bath when my father finally, losing patience, scooped me up and dunked me in the kitchen sink. As an older parent in the 1950s when women married very young, exchanging immediately their parental home for the marital abode, she had little in common with the much younger American-born mothers, having grown up as a rolling stone in Europe and the States. She, however, characteristically dug in her heels and made the best of the situation, trying and ultimately succeeding to fit her fledgling family somewhat into the Baby Boomer 1950s.

Although not the typical mother per se, she did her best, and I admire her dedication to giving it a go in what were for her uncharted waters. She, for example, became proficient in and dedicated every morning to braiding my never shorn hair until the age of 14. She was excellent at thinking on her feet to assuage a child’s anxieties or sudden heart break like the time in 6th grade when I was so proud to wear my “graduation dress” as was Sandy with our first pair of high heels—not too high as only one inch and a half height was sanctioned and as I recall was complete with a first pair of nylons—yes, not panty hose, but with a garter belt for those friends of my daughter who are clueless. My grandmother had given me as a graduation present a charm bracelet with 13 various heart-shaped charms of which I was, of course, inordinately proud. At the end of graduation day I realized one of the charms had fallen off and I was crushed and crying woeful tears. Thinking fast, Mama remarked that it was just fine as I was only twelve and thus it was meant to be that I should have the momento of the 12 remaining charms. I still have that prized bracelet and the memory of her consoling me and making it all better.

Her cooking skills, or lack thereof, were, however, legend. Our Irish housekeeper had Thursdays off and I loved those days because we were allowed to leave the very correct dining room, complete with bread and butter plates and linen napkins—as there will always be an England in my mother’s very correct mindset—but were instead served her two mainstay Thursday dishes, sitting in front of television as it blared The Donna Reed Show and My Three Sons, with either bacon sandwiches or the newly-introduced-to-the-market box of Noodles Romanoff. The informality of those Thursdays remain a special memory: I can still see her as she puttered around in the kitchen.

Also memorable at this time of the year is her first attempt at an American Thanksgiving dinner spurred on only because I had come home after learning the words to “over the river and thru the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” Realizing it was a non-starter to assume that Garrett would be wielding a turkey baster, and eager to fulfill her children’s perception of a Norman Rockwell American celebration, she set to work. With great excitement for our first Thanksgiving celebration, she walked in with a flourish to present not a glistening golden bird, but a lone turkey roll! We never let her forget her transgression, annually reminding her when subsequent gobblers were carved!

There are, of course, many vignettes I could share with you to illustrate a mother’s love. But one occurrence my mother never let me forget unfailingly on Mother’s Day. She would remind me of how, without asking her, I volunteered her to be the Girl Scout Cookie chairman for my troop. Without informing her, suddenly one day a huge delivery truck started off-loading cartons and cartons of Girl Scout Cookies, the thought of which still brings to mind memories of her running amidst the towers of stacked cartons stuffed into all corners of our living and dining room with a clipboard inventory at hand, collecting monies, keeping track, and dispensing boxes to all my fellow Girl Scouts, filling their orders. An example of a mother’s love and perseverance, for sure, with me unconsciously taking mental note I am sure, as I never saw fit to enroll my own daughter in Scouts.

Growing up I quickly found that most of my friends, and in later years, even my boyfriends, adored my mother. I have fielded on several occasions the question “Why can’t you be more like your mother?” Now that’s a good question, but I think we came to be a good team bringing our own individualized skill sets to our dedication to the Foundation. I used to tell her laughingly—with which she would agree—that I would metaphorically pull her out of plodding along in the basement and she would pull me out of the clouds while in flights of fancy and over enthusiasm. The Foundation would never have survived without her steady hand after the death of Garrett.

Whirlwinds such as our founder are a force of nature, but they need a good clean up crew in their wake and that, of course, was the quintessential Eileen Coly, who with quiet resolve just walked in, not in her mother’s striking high heeled ankle-strap shoes, but in her own sensible walking shoes, to take charge and get down to business.

I could tell my mother anything and very often did, as did many of my friends, a practice that continued into adulthood. They sought her good counsel and sage life wisdom, something she also dispensed to her grandchildren and their friends over the years, most especially at the brown house—now yellow—in Greenport. When I had romantic entanglements with subsequent complications or altercations with Big George, she never volunteered advice or meddled, just stood steadfastly by to catch me when I fell. I never wanted to disappoint her in any way and rather than telling me not to do something which, with me, was a sure fire way to assure I would do the opposite, she would rather off-handedly say, “Oh you want to do that? How strange I would have thought differently.” It was just enough to veer me off course and make me rethink. For someone with limited orthodox parenting role models, she certainly learned quickly on the job.

Though not representative of the classic maternal stereotype, she nonetheless was deeply fond of my goddaughters, Amanda and Elianna Mesaikos, as well as their cousin Andreas Stavropolis, along with Lori and Brian Miller, keeping up with their exploits as well as those of the children of our extended family which includes the Powers, Elgart, Fellin, and Swensen clans. Growing up with my children, their best friends Mac Craig and Alexa Ridolfi, often underfoot, were beloved as well. Here with me to say goodbye is Sandy Miller who was like another daughter to her, and Hank Bisordi, the son of my parents’ dear friends Edmund and Winifred Bisordi, who grew up across the street from me and is a member of our ersatz family, who has done much to fill the gap left by my brother who was taken from us all too soon. For someone who said she did not have the motherhood gene, these relationships serve to challenge her perception of self.

In closing, before I turn you over to my children who will share their perspective of their beloved grandmother, I can tell you that I count myself ever so lucky to have had—possibly—an unconventional mother but, in reality, the best representation of the real definition of mother. Security and steadfast concern for me and mine with an abundance of no frill affection will continue to serve me well as I proceed “steady on,” as she would counsel me, while missing her desperately but secure she will always be with me at my core.

My Grandmother
By Anna Damalas

My grandmother wasn't a typical grandmother, in fact she wasn't a grandmother at all. She was a Muzzie and in a class all her own. Muzzie may not have been an avid cookie baker or a hugger but as I learned quickly in this family, normal is vastly overrated. Muzzie was warm and kind in her own way and loved and protected her family.

Eileen Coly was the most charismatic person I have ever met, even when her wits weren't about her over this past summer, she still managed to turn on the charm and keep everyone captivated with her interesting stories or remarks. I had the privilege of knowing her for twenty three years and she was still surprising me with her perspectives and candor.

After 97 years of life, I think anyone might have a pretty good idea of who they are but from what I have gathered from stories, Muzzie always had a strong sense of self. She was sharp, funny, honest and infinitely strong, and I hope to one day be a portion of the woman she was. I hope one day, I too can be a Muzzie.

Celebrating Eileen Coly
By George Damalas

First off, I would like to thank you for coming today to share in our sorrow, but also to share in our joy as we celebrate grandmother’s wonderful life. My grandmother was a wonderful woman who lived a rich, long life. Ninety-seven years is a very long time, and we were blessed to be able to have her with us for so long. You all know her biography by now, so I won’t get into that. I won’t bore you either with stories about vacations and the time we spent together because there are too many fond memories and 97 years cannot be summed up in a short speech. I instead will keep it short and sweet, like my grandmother. My grandmother was a great woman; she loved animals, jokes, her family and stiff drinks. She will be greatly missed. Thank you all again for coming and celebrating her life with us and I hope to meet you all at the bar after to share a screwdriver in her honor. Cheers.

By Lisette Coly

I truly hope that we have been able to capture and memorialize a soupcon of who Eileen Coly was. She will certainly live on in her family’s and friends’ hearts, and I have the comfort of knowing that she touched with purpose the lives of many. All that remains is perhaps the last word I can share with you before we turn the proceedings over to the capable and reassuring hands of Father Ronald Wickey. My mother was certainly used to Eileen Garrett having the last word as was I, so I think it fitting that she join in to comfort us at her daughter’s passing.

Taken from Life is the Healer by Eileen J. Garrett:

“But one thing can never be strange or quaint: The bright white flame of simple faith in the reality of the human spirit and its destiny as partaker of everlasting life. How different from our modern-day doleful and lugubrious funerals, held in professionally slick mortuary parlors or chapels, where the hopeless sense of finality and defeat unrelieved by faith is so thick one could slice it with a dull knife! How incongruous the words of faith and hope sound in the ears of those who do not believe them, but who pay to have them said as a ritual of respect for the dead. And what a contrast between profession and actuality it is when even those who claim in a purely conventional way to believe in the survival of their loved ones wail and sob as if they really believed the opposite! If there is a place for tears in a funeral service held by those who really believe in immortality, it is not for tears for those who have “died” but for those who must part awhile from whom they will miss. For those who have taken the great step upward tears are superfluous and inappropriate.

It is probably true that this is not an “age of faith.” But what does that matter? Faith is personal, not collective, and the faith and expectation that really counts is one’s own. If others do not know, “we” can know, and meet the transition that must come to us all with the glad welcome reserved for a special friend we have long awaited. As once we entered this world by the door of birth, so it is our privilege to advance from it through the golden door that opens to us the eternal meadows watered by the stream of life. Symbolism is inadequate and words pale to express the reality of the life we shall join. We have no means of expressing what it shall be except to repeat the old words of our present stage of existence such as “blessedness,” “glory,” “peace,” and “light.”

It will be more than all these together, better than we have capacity to imagine or dream. Let us come to it eagerly, unafraid, sounding with so many others who have preceded us through that golden gate, the everlasting note of triumph.

And there we shall know all wounds, all imperfections, all incapacities cured forever, in Life, the Healer.”

Rest in Peace, Mama


After the memorial was concluded, the attendees retired to the Soundview Restaurant, one of Eileen Coly’s favorite places, to eat together and remember her participation in their lives. The following was read at that gathering.

Remembering Muzzie
By Jane MacClean Craig

I had the great good fortune of knowing Muzzie for the last 15 years of her life, as a result of the very close friendship of her grandson, George, and my younger son, Mac, and, subsequently, my cherished friendship with Lisette.

And what a true gift that was. To me, Muzzie was the personification of grace, elegance, worldly sophistication, consummate charm and utter devotion to her family…truly all a woman can ideally be. She was also the mother that I—and I’m certain every other daughter who ever met her—wishes she could have called her own.

I, too, had the opportunity to spend the weekend alone with Muzzie, a couple of summers ago; while Lisette and company travelled to Maine for her goddaughter’s wedding. And while we did pass the requisite amount of time searching for her ever elusive pocketbook, what I remember most about those three days, was the gloriously rich trip through time she took me on.

She eloquently spoke of her years of travel and high glamor with her mother, her serendipitous meeting of her great love and subsequent husband, Bob, the war years spent during the terrifying London blitz, and most of all, her tremendous and utterly undying love for her own family. There was never before, and I’m certain, will never be again, another Eileen Coly; for God most certainly broke the mold on the day she was born.

And now, fully restored in body and mind, (with purse firmly in hand, never to be lost again) she has rejoined her loved ones who have preceded her into God’s green meadow, where there is no suffering or sadness.

In closing, I’d like to quote from the lyrics of the great British WWII chanteuse Vera Lynn’s signature song:

“We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,
Don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again
Some sunny day.”

Eileen Coly on her last birthday


For an album of photos of Mrs. Coly click here and then click on the first photo to open up the album and its captions.



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