Mary Elizabeth Peyton Chambers, 79, of Hanover Center died Saturday November 20, 2010 at Lebanon Center Genesis of complications due to lung cancer. Mary was born in Poca, West Virginia on August 31, 1931, the first child of Henry and Hilda (Cary) Peyton. She was graduated from Poca High School class of 1948, and West Virginia Wesleyan University class of 1952. She taught School in Poca and then went to Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and earned a Master’s degree in special education in 1955.
It was at Vanderbilt that she met her future husband, Wilbert F. “Bert” Chambers. They were married on July 6, 1957. Together they went to Burlington Vermont where Mary taught at what would become the Baird Children’s Center. She served as the center’s director from 1958 to 1967. She was one of the first teachers in the nation to attempt to educate institutionalized children.
While in Burlington her children were born, Henry “Hank” in 1958, and James “Jim” in 1960 and Jane in 1966. In 1967 the family moved to Hanover Center, NH where Bert took a position at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover. In 1974 Mary became the director, teacher, and a founder of the Upper Valley Adult Basic Education program in Lebanon.
She was a member of the First Congregational Church of Hanover in Hanover Center where she served as Moderator, Trustee, Organist, and Sunday school teacher. She was also involved with the Women’s Fellowship of the Church. She was known for her baked beans at the Hanover Center Fair and her biscuits at the annual chicken pie supper.
Mary is perhaps best known for her tireless work as a NH state legislator from Hanover. She served in the NH House of Representatives from 1972 until 1992, much of the time in leadership roles. She was House Deputy Democratic Leader from 1977 to 1984 and then House Democratic Leader from 1985 to 1992. She served as a member of the Professional Conduct Committee of the NH Supreme Court beginning in 1979. She was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the National Council for the Handicapped from 1980 to 1982. She was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1988 to 1997, and a delegate the Democratic National Convention in 1980, 1984 (delegation chair), 1988 (delegation chair), 1992, and 1996. She served as a member of the NH State Democratic Committee from 1974 until 2010.
She was honored for her work on behalf of the people of NH with several awards including the NH Democratic Party Eleanor Roosevelt Award, Dunfey-Kanteres Award, and the Granite State Award from Keene State College in 1993.
Mary is survived by her sister Lucy and her husband Dr. Curtis Withrow of Charleston W.Va., her son Hank and his wife Susan of Austin TX., her son Jim of Rochester, NH and her daughter Jane and her husband Rob Rice of Hanover Center, and three grandchildren Dan, age 17, Jim, age 15, and Curtis age 7. Her grandchildren were the most important people in her life. Her devotion to them showed every day. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
Friends may call from 3-5 PM on Sunday, November 28 at the Rand-Wilson Funeral Home in Hanover. The funeral will be held Monday, November 29, 2010 at 1:00 PM at the First Congregational Church of Hanover in Hanover Center with the Revs. Ted Brayman and Heidi Hoskin officiating. Burial will follow at the Hanover Center Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the First Congregational Church of Hanover in Hanover Center PO Box 31 Etna, NH 03750 or the charity of ones choice.
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Rand - Wilson Funeral Home
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Hanover, NH 03755