Folsom Funeral Service

Paine, Prudence

Paine, Prudence

Prudence Helen (Berry) Paine of Dedham died Sunday, April 10, 2016.

“Never mind about all that. I’ll put on the kettle and we’ll have a nice cup of tea” – Prudence Paine (quoting Beyond the Fringe)

If you are reading this, you’ve probably had a cup of tea with Prue, most likely Earl Grey served from a sturdy brown teapot, hopefully with a biscuit on the side (Well, maybe two biscuits).

“What is it about tea,” She asked on a tough morning recently, “that just makes things better?”

“Actually, Prue,” we wish we could tell her, “It isn’t just the tea. It’s having tea with Prue.”

Prudence Helen (Berry) Paine lived a life full of great joy and deep sorrow, but always reflected to others her abiding understanding that – as she wrote – “indeed all WILL be well.” She was born July 25, 1938 in Kent, England, one short year before England declared war with Germany. Her two older sisters, Anne and Dido were evacuated to New England not long after and lived out the war with a foster family in Fitchburg, Ma. Prue was too young to be evacuated; she spent the war with her parents, Kathleen and Walter Berry, until her father enlisted as a chaplain and was killed in France. Although these were awful years, she held on to the sweet memories of her childhood in the middle of this bleakness: her pet goat (kept for milk) riding next to her in the car, her first orange delivered by the Americans, her father and mother telling her she was going to sleep in “the fairy house” as they led her down to the bomb shelter, reassuring her that the bright fires from distant bombs were “fairy lights”. She even remembered Marmite fondly.

After the war, like all proper British children, she was sent off to boarding school in some bleak, brick Victorian mansion, where Matron roamed the halls at night, making girls caught giggling – like Prue – stand in the dark, drafty hallway to learn to be serious and follow rules. Luckily, Prue never learned either lesson perfectly. She and her best friend Susan once split a hymnal laughing uproariously during chapel, and Prue continued to enjoy a good giggle for many more decades. Her photos from this period show a smiling girl with two braids, sometimes dressed up as a boy for school plays, sometimes wearing her sports kit.

She trained as a pediatric nurse in London before taking a job as a nanny and traveling on the Queen Mary across the Atlantic, in order to see the America where her sisters had lived during the war. She settled in Dedham, and, although England never left her heart, she lived in Dedham for the rest of her life, building a family, making friends in many communities, spreading her love of a proper cup of tea, a good giggle, and a face-to face chat. She lived for more than 30 years at Noble and Greenough School where she was a faculty wife and night nurse to the boarders. She made a impression on this traditional preparatory school fairly quickly, bringing home a donkey in the back of her Volkswagon bus and somehow managing to convince the headmaster that “Ben” should be allowed to roam the campus and graze on the playing fields. Neighborhood children brought her all kinds of stray and injured animals after that; her daughters even remember a bird, recovering from an errant flight into a window, sitting in the Christmas wreath and singing during Christmas dinner.

All her kind ministrations to the people and animals of the Nobles community were returned to her fivefold when this community of friends supported and stitched her back together when her dear son Ian died in a car crash at age twenty. Many of you may have watched a soccer game from his memorial bench which overlooks the fields at Nobles; Prue often paused there for a rest on her many dog walks around the campus.

From Nobles, she went onto live and work at the Park School in Brookline, running the after school program. One of her favorite activities with the children was winter sledding down an enormous hill at Larz Anderson Park, most likely in violation of school policy. Her daughters remember often finding her waiting at Park with a couple of children at the end of the day, absorbed with them in a LEGO project or reading aloud, “doing all the voices”. She loved the children and their parents, although was not above offering adults tips in an age of permissive parenting: “You cannot ASK a 6 yr-old if he would like to put on his winter jacket when it is freezing,” she would advise. “You TELL him to put on his jacket!”

Even as Prue immersed herself in the life of these schools, her circle of concern extended out into the larger world. Her daughters remember a childhood without Nestle chocolate as Prue boycotted the company in protest over their marketing policies in Africa. She completed the Walk for Hunger at least 10 times (often with her dear friend Jan Bird), helped organize the OXFAM dinners at St. Paul’s church and was an early and committed supporter of Heifer International.

After retiring from Park School, Prue settled in a new neighborhood in Dedham and returned to her old church, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Westwood. Both provided her with love, support, gossip and new opportunities for community with others. She joined a knitting group, a book group, the church choir, the Dedham choral society. She helped with the church’s outreach to a Boston homeless shelter, volunteered at a Dedham elementary school, and took many walks with friends and her spunky dog, Keston.

In spite of all her friends and activities and interests, Prue always placed her children and grandchildren at the center of her life. She looked forward to any outing with her two daughters, Deborah Sabin and Katrina Strauss, and she always had time to spend with her five grandchildren: Zachary (21), Haley (21), Annika (19), Matthew (17) and Elena (12). While parents were rushing around, you could count on Granny to help you cut out some paper dolls, show you how to make an origami bird, bake you her famous birthday cake, admire your projects, pen a poem in your honor, go to your concerts, watch your Ultimate frisbee game, laugh through“The Court Jester” for the umpteenth time, collect all the Red Sox newspaper clippings for you during their first World Series season, and – especially –  make you a cup of tea and have a chat.

Things were not easy for Prue during the past number of months. But she constantly reminded her daughters of how lucky she felt, as her bedside was surrounded by friends from all the communities of which she had been a part. They brought flowers, cards, stories, prayers and laughter. She wrote once that “it isn’t just that gifts are given but the ability to SEE them that is the most precious gift God gives to us.” She always saw and reached towards those gifts. She will be missed.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend her Memorial Service Saturday, April 16th at 10 AM at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 95 Deerfield Avenue, Westwood.  Interment will be private.  In lieu of flowers donations to Heifer International, PO Box 8058, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72203, attn Donor Services, or to the Ian Paine ‘85 Memorial Scholarship Fund, Noble and GreenoughSchool, 10 Campus Drive, Dedham, MA 02026 would be appreciated.

Guestbook Entries

  1. Cathleen McGuire
    April 13th, 2016 | 10:11 am

    Prudence shared a room at Ellis with our mother, Ora McGuire. We only knew her a couple days, but we very much appreciated her warm, gentle, loving spirit.

    Who would have thought Prudence would share a room with someone who likewise made origami cranes and worked crossword puzzles – both passions of our mother.

    Our prayers go out to Prudence that she have safe passage to the other side. And to you, Katie, that you go through a healing grieving process.
    Sincerely,
    Cathleen McGuire

  2. Colleen McGuire
    April 13th, 2016 | 10:30 am

    Dear Katie, I am grateful that my mom, Ora McGuire, had Prudence has her roommate in Ellis. What a wonderful surprise to learn that Prudence and Mom both made peace cranes and both worked crossword puzzles. Mom’s yoga teacher Robin awoke that morning at 4:00 am thinking of Prudence and brought her oils to massage her feet. Like my sisters Cat and Tina and myself, Robin too was so surprised to walk in Mom’s room and see the empty bed. I wish Prudence many blessings on her peaceful journey. Colleen McGuire

  3. Ed and Bonnie Kronewitter
    April 13th, 2016 | 11:47 am

    We are so very sorry for your loss.

  4. carol nichols
    April 14th, 2016 | 9:54 am

    This is so beautiful – and true to form. What a wonderful tribute to Prue- I hope it will be read at her service. I remember many years after Ian had died,and I had lost a dear grandson, that she told me she finally feels joy again, and that I would too- this week marks the anniversary of his death in 2004 — and I am remembering her valuable words, and remembering her spirit and how it reached us all..

  5. Joanne, Susan & Linda Carlson
    April 14th, 2016 | 6:24 pm

    Our heartfelt condolences to Prue’s loving family. We are so very sorry for your loss. Prue was a dear neighbor and friend, a woman we loved and admired, and with whom we’d share a cup of tea, a lighthearted chat and laughter. Knowing Prue was a gift we’ll treasure always. May she rest in peace.

    Joanne, Susan & Linda Carlson
    Mt. Dora, Florida
    (formerly Boulevard Road, Dedham)

  6. spear family
    April 14th, 2016 | 6:25 pm

    condolences to Prue’s family. So sorry for your loss. We will miss her too. She was a sweet soul and a wonderful friend to all of us. Steve enjoyed singing in the St. John’s choir with Prue. I loved the long ongoing conversation we shared about our dogs. Prue gave Will had his first pre-teen job as a weed puller for her garden club. Prue poured out a lot of love. So grateful we had some years to love her.

  7. Betsy Bishop
    April 15th, 2016 | 1:36 pm

    Dears Katey, Debbie and all of Prue’s beloved family,

    We Bishops have always felt that you were really a part of our family because we were so fortunate to live close and to share your early lives.

    Your family took care of our kids foe a few days after I had surgery when you were tiny and we always smile about the little red mg stuck in the snow at the end of the Winchester driveway when Ian was on his way into this world.

    We shared the hours at the Mary Hitchcock Hospital as your dear Ian was passing from this world into the larger life.

    Prue has been a faithful friend through everything thaat has happened in our lives and I will treasure her as a closest life friend forever.

    In these later years since we moved to Linden Ponds Prue has been by our sides caring for us even though she was having such medical trials of her own.She was with me so closely when Jack died. I will never forget it.

    Elizabeth and I will be with you tommorow.

    Love, Betsy

    I love you, God bless you Betsy

  8. The Bennett Family
    April 15th, 2016 | 7:11 pm

    Prue was the dearest friend to us Brits in Dedham. She made us laugh endlessly about really silly things and we loved her impish humour. She was, quite literally, one in a million who had such a ‘can do’ attitude that taught us all that anything is possible. She will be so sorely missed but I’m sure she’s keeping an eye on us all! May she rest in peace. Xxx

  9. Betsy Bishop
    April 17th, 2016 | 1:24 pm

    Hi again to Katey, Debby and all Prue’s family. The service was perfect. I know Prue had planned much of it way in advance, because we talked of it, but the family remembrances were beautiful. Love Betsy

  10. Rick and Emily Theobald
    April 20th, 2016 | 5:53 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to Prue. To Debbie, Katey and your extended families, our deepest condolences and prayers go out to all of you. We were not able to make the service, but have heard from family that is was a perfect memorial for someone as caring, thoughtful and special as Prue. She is greatly missed by all the Theobalds. May she rest in peace.

    Love, Rick and Emily Theobald

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