Obituaries

Priscilla Bailey Tully, 103, of Middlebury

PRISCILLA BAILEY TULLY

MIDDLEBURY — Priscilla Bailey Tully let go of this life on Feb. 4, 2024, just shy of her 104th birthday. She was at home, surrounded by family and her beloved cat, Willie.

Priscilla came into this world in the middle of a snowstorm, the doctor trudging three miles uphill, with a sled.

Although she grew up very close with her only sister, Martha, she had an independent spirit that took her far and wide.

She lived on Beacon Hill and worked first in the Freshman Dean’s Office at Harvard, and later for Arthur D. Little in the Food and Flavor lab, learning to distinguish cigarette brands by smell, a skill that would later terrify her teenage daughters. She volunteered at Mass General Hospital at night.

When World War II started, she moved to Ellsworth, Maine, where she worked for the Civil Air Patrol as a plotting board operator, watching for enemy planes.

Her wanderlust and sense of duty took her to Hawaii in 1944, working for the red Cross and living at Schofield Barracks, among many handsome, smitten Navy officers.

Her next adventure was living with three girls in New York City, working for John Price Jones, doing campaign work and raising money for charitable causes.

A blind date set up by her brother-in-law, Jim, introduced her to fellow Navy officer Robert Tully, who was going to officer training school in Rhode Island. They married in 1950 and had two daughters.

Priscilla embraced her new role as Navy wife and mother, raising her daughters on the bases in the East and during a two-year stint in Panama in the early 1960s. Upon retirement from the Navy, they settled on a farm in Plympton, Mass., and later, on full retirement, in Swansboro, N.C.

In her earlier years she was an avid golfer and painter and hosted spirited bridge games with long-time friends. She enjoyed boating and bought her last Boston Whaler when she was well into her 90s. She loved traveling, particularly to her second favorite island of Bermuda, where she spent her 100th birthday with 20 good friends and family, just before the world shut down for the pandemic.

She was always involved in church wherever she moved. In Middlebury, she offered to be overnight person at the Charter House, caring for the homeless. Pastor Andy suggested she bring brownies instead.

She loved gardening and Garden Club and was a longstanding member of the Sewing Circle, as well as a yearly volunteer at the Islesboro Rummage Sale. She and her sister were widely known as the Linen Ladies. When she first moved to Middlebury she volunteered at Round Robin, an upscale consignment shop, and was active in the gym.

Priscilla moved to Middlebury, Vt., in 2014 after “trying it out” for four years part-time. She continued to spend each summer since she was five months old on her beloved island, Islesboro.

She adored her animals, having raised twelve large and spirited dogs before becoming a cat lover to Wille at the tender age of 96. Friends often said, “When I die, I want to come back as Priscilla Tully’s dog.” And Priscilla would often quote Will Rogers. “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”

Her key to long life was having her beloved dogs to walk, a glass of chardonnay at night, and ice cream to “settle my stomach.”

She leaves behind a multitude of beloved friends; her cat, Willie; daughters Ellen and Sarah; favorite son-on-law, Tommy; nephews Jim and Rick and wife Paula; and much-loved Tully relatives, with whom she enjoyed family reunions in Arizona and Maine over the past five years.

As per her wishes, there will be no funeral, but because of her love of good parties, we will celebrate her life on Islesboro in mid-June. For those who would like to honor her, she loved Project Independence in Middlebury, Vt. She was involved with the Congregational Church of Middlebury, and the Islesboro Sewing Circle, on Islesboro, Maine. ◊

 

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