Obituary: Sally Williams Guerry

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 2:21pm

Sally Williams Guerry died at home in the company of her family in Richmond, Virginia, on January 2. She was 96, forgot nothing of the seven generations of people she knew, loved her life, and treasured her family and friends. She regretted few things — these included not reaching 100 and not returning over the last four years to her Block Island home.

She and her husband, the late DuPont Guerry, III, first came to the island in 1950. They were tempted there by Calla Anderson, whose house on Cooneymus Road they frequented until putting up a new fangled, pre-cut house on a hill across from Calla’s pond in 1960. In the ensuing years she tolerated a series of imperfect dogs and taught scrabble, spite and malice, bridge and how to live a good life to her four children, 12 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and innumerable cousins and friends. She was a silent partner with the Pomeroys and Frazels in establishing the Block Island Club. Her descendents have always worked summer jobs on island and always wished those summers would never end.

In the wider world she was a communitarian who was the first woman to be a senior warden in her church, and was one of the original trustees when Morehouse College became the first historically black college to establish a medical school.

She had a vivid five years in her retirement community, accepting a benevolently matriarchal role while playing killer bridge. She refused over the last three years to give ascendancy to the breast cancer that took her life. Indeed, early in the week of her death she won big at bridge, had her hair done, mourned Virginia’s loss in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and sipped a little New Year’s Eve champagne.

A granddaughter spoke at her funeral of her immortality, of her living on “in the greatest and smallest revelations of beauty; in the greatest and smallest circles of family.”

She leaves her children, DuPont Guerry, IV, Richard Kennon Guerry, Mary Guerry Tucker, Thomas LeGrand Guerry; and her grandchildren (and great grandchildren): Sarah Lasley Guerry (Thelonious Doak and Tristan Matthew Brady-Guerry), Anne DuPont Guerry (Finnian Guerry and Cyrus Guerry Lawler), Page Kennon Guerry (Emeline Guerry and Everett Thomas Guerry Dickinson), John DuPont Guerry, Christopher Haskins Guerry, Ian Davenport Guerry, Peter St. George Tucker, Maria Tucker Frostic (Liam Tucker and Gavin Leif Frostic), John Lewis Tucker, Emily Davenport Guerry, Sally Davidson Guerry, and Charlotte Gabriel Guerry.

Donations in her memory can be made to the Westminster Canterbury Foundation, 1600 Westbrook Ave., Richmond, VA 23227 or St. Ann’s by the Sea, P.O. Box 622, Block Island, RI 02807.