Caroline D. Cushman, 98

Sun, 07/19/2015 - 9:00am
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Caroline D. (Dorsey) Cushman died peacefully in Arlington, Mass., on June 29, 2015, a few months short of her 99th birthday. She was born in Findlay, Ohio on Oct. 15, 1916, graduated from Skidmore College in 1938 and married Albert A. Bliss of Bradford, Penn. in the same year. She and Albert lived in Huntington, N.Y. in a post-war ranch house on the former Otto Kahn estate. They had three children: Michael D. Bliss of Lexington, Mass., Leila J. Bliss, who died in 1974, and Anne E. Bliss of East Hampton, N.Y. She and Albert were later divorced. In the early 1960s she met Robert E. Cushman of New York City. She and Robert — adventurous souls — bought 34 acres of undeveloped land on Block Island in 1964 where she built a house that they lived in year-round for a number of years. They also traveled widely to then-unlikely destinations like Haiti, Turkey, Iran, Bali, Thailand, China and Africa. She also ran a boutique on Block Island, the Island Bazaar, featuring imported clothes, house wares and tchotchkes. She and Robert were married in 1970 and in 1978 they bought a condominium in Pelican Cove near Sarasota, Florida; Robert died later that year. Following Robert’s death she built (successively) two more houses on Block Island, where she lived summers while spending winters in Pelican Cove. In 1994 she moved to Natick, Mass. where she lived for many years in a converted carriage house — with a second floor studio — behind the home of her son Michael and his family. She later moved to Fox Hill Village in Westwood, Mass. and two years ago to an assisted living facility, Sunrise of Arlington, in Arlington, Mass.

Although some might say her life was marked by tragedy — her mother died when she was three, her only sibling, Billy, died in an auto accident when he was 30, and her daughter Leila died by her own hand in her early 30s — she was a deeply positive person who embraced life and welcomed all into her life. She did not shy from challenges: as a young suburban mother of three small children she shared a studio in Manhattan with an artist friend where, putting aside the relative ease of painting on canvas, she chose instead to embody her visions by chiseling marble and alabaster. She is remembered by all who knew her for setting the table for warm social occasions of all kinds and in all sorts of places. Her various jobs as interior decorator, elementary school teacher, social worker, real estate salesperson and proprietor of a Block Island boutique — and her unpaid roles as artist, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother—speak to these qualities.

She is survived and will be dearly missed by her son Michael and her daughter Anne, their spouses Susan H. Bliss and Thomas S. Ickovic, Michael’s ex-wife Corinne M. Demas, step-children Charles W. Cushman of Hartland Four Corners, Vermont, Carol C. Stratton (Cushman) of Lebanon, N.H. and Robert E. Cushman, Jr. of Bedford, N.Y., grandchildren (and step-grandchildren) Austin C. Bliss of Lexington, Mass., Nicholas H. Bliss of Natick, Mass., Christopher J. Bliss of Houston, Texas, Sallie L. Lang of Oakland, Calif., Samuel Bliss Cooper of Redondo Beach, Calif. and Caleb B. Ickovic of Las Vegas, Nevada, Catharine R. Stratton of Windsor, Vermont, Robert P. Stratton of Bangkok, Thailand, Susan S. Stratton of Los Angeles, Calif., Robert S. Cushman of Ashland, Mass., Bradford W. Cushman of Chappaqua, N.Y., Jessica R. Cushman of La Canada, Calif, Elizabeth G. Potter of Bozeman, Montana; and more great-grandchildren, step-relatives and not-relatives than can readily be named.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 18 at the Douglass Funeral Home in Lexington, Mass. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care of Massachusetts, 275 Grove St, Auburndale, Mass. 02466.