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Mary Hildreth, 94

Thu, 08/31/2023 - 09:53

Aug. 27, 1928 - July 26, 2023

Mary Roberta Lewis Hildreth, who helped her husband, Merrall Topping Hildreth, run the Sagaponack General Store and Post Office for many years, died on July 26 at East End Hospice’s Kanas Center for Hospice Care in Quiogue. She was 94.

She was an active member of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church “and an advocate for the underdog and the lonely, helping those in need when she could, providing gifts for the poor at Christmas, and writing weekly letters to shut-ins from the church,” her family said. “She also was environmentally conscious, creating little waste by reusing plastic bags, serving small but nutritious meals, and line-drying laundry whenever possible.”

Born in Sag Harbor on Aug. 27, 1928, to Harold Flint Lewis and the former Elfrieda Garypie, she graduated from Southampton High School in 1946 and went on to earn a degree in education from the State Teachers College at New Paltz (now SUNY New Paltz) in 1950. On June 25 of that year she married Mr. Hildreth.

She taught fourth grade in the East Hampton School District until becoming a mother in 1953, and six years later, when her second daughter was 3, she opened a private half-day nursery school, which she ran until 1971, when she went to work with her husband at the general store. He had run it with his father since the mid-1940s, and from 1975 to 1986 he was the Sagaponack postmaster.

Mrs. Hildreth is survived by a daughter, Deborah Gail Hildreth Phelps of Valatie, N.Y., two sons-in-law, Ted Phelps of Valatie and John Moss of Mattituck, by her grandchildren, Bree Elizabeth Moss, Eric Hildreth Moss, and Eleanor Hildreth Phelps, and by two great-granddaughters. She also leaves a sister, Dorothy Lewis Tennant and her husband, Gil Tennant, of Southampton, a sister-in-law, Mary Louise Hildreth Leonard of Sagaponack, a brother-in-law, Tom Sayer of Virginia, and several nieces and nephews.

Her husband died in 2020. She was also predeceased by a daughter, Donna Jeanne Hildreth Moss, and her siblings, Beatrice Lewis Holden, Eleanor May Lewis Graves, George Lewis, and Nancy Lewis Sayre.

A memorial service was held at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church on Sunday, with the Rev. Adrian Pratt officiating.

East End Hospice and the Kanas Center for Hospice Care provided “loving support and guidance at the end of Mary’s life,” her family wrote. They suggested donations to those organizations at P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978, or to the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 3038, Bridgehampton 11932.


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