Brooklyn Heights

Obituary: Mary-Chilton Winslow Mead dies, known for her gracious wit

May 19, 2014 By Francesca Norsen-Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Mary-Chilton Winslow Mead, of Brooklyn and Stillwater, N.J., died peacefully on Wednesday, May 7, at The Nathaniel Witherell Nursing Center in Greenwich, Conn. She was 79.

Born in Manhattan, Mead, known affectionately as Mimi, lived in Brooklyn Heights for many years. She and her husband Bill were longtime members of Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights, serving in leadership positions. They particularly loved singing in the Parish Choir together. Above all, she was respected for her elegance, wit and compassion.

Mimi attended The Nightingale-Bamford School and graduated from The Brearley School, both in Manhattan. She attended Radcliffe College. Later, she made her career as a journalist and syndicated columnist for the Bell-McClure papers. She also worked in advertising and was a director of corporate communications at The Dreyfus Corp. for more than 20 years. She retired in 1995. She was a member of The Harvard Club of New York.

Travel was central to Mimi and Bill Mead. Early in their marriage, they visited Mexico (particularly the Yucatán), where both developed an interest in archaeology and the Mayan civilization. Subsequently, they visited Nepal and India; Great Britain and France; and Egypt/Middle East. Bill’s work as a lawyer took them to Europe and the family lived in Brussels, Belgium, for two years. Her family loved Great Britain and France and Mimi became fluent in French.

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The Meads also maintained a home in Stillwater Township, which has been in the family since 1932.

Family and friends remember Mimi Mead as a woman of great intelligence, wit and charisma. She was an avid gardener and a great lover of music. She sang with the Grace Church Parish Choir for 24 years, nurturing even more friendships.

“Mimi was a genuine lady! And, in that, she was a role model for us all. She epitomized true gentility: she could make anyone feel at ease, regardless of their station in life,” said Barbara Becker, a longtime friend and fellow chorister. “Mimi was always perfectly gracious, but never a bit stuffy. Our brunches and dinners with her and Bill at Armando’s were legendary and always a treat. She could tell a funny story — even about herself — including elegant declarations, delivered with mock seriousness, that had us all laughing. It would be hard to forget the way she would say, ‘Oh YES!’ or ‘Of COURSE!’ with that knowing twinkle in her eye, then take a discreet sip of her favorite cocktail. Mimi was a cherished member of our Grace Church Choir family who will be dearly, dearly missed.”

Another friend and parishioner recalled, “One of the things I liked about Mimi was her humor — her soul twinkled! She always spontaneously liked to help other people. Mimi was approachable.”

Fellow chorister Kathleen Bliss said, “I remember her elegant style that combined a sharp wit and sincere generosity, all with that endearing smile.”

The daughter of the late Natalie Wales Douglas-Hamilton and Kenelm Winslow, Mimi was predeceased by her older sister, Natalie Wales Winslow. A devoted wife, mother and grandmother, she is survived by her husband of 55 years, William G. Mead, and their children — George W. Mead, of West Linn, Ore.; Elizabeth M. Stowell and her husband William of Darien, Conn.; and Malcolm G. Mead and his wife Kathleen of Bainbridge Island, Wash. She is also survived by six grandchildren — Eleanor and William Mead; Carl and Timothy Stowell; and Angeline and Nathaniel Mead.

Burial was at Stillwater Municipal Cemetery. A memorial service is being planned for the fall at Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights.

Memorial donations may be made to The Nathaniel Witherell Nursing Center, 70 Parsonage Road, Greenwich, Conn. 06830. Online condolences can also be expressed via

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