Penelope Griswold Place


Penelope Griswold Place, lifetime summer resident of Mount Desert Island, passed away peacefully Sunday, May 21, 2017. Pen was born on March 14, 1924, in the kitchen of her family home in Boston, Mass., to Penelope Griswold and Roger Griswold.

Pen was constantly curious and engaging with people and places. She was well traveled, from childhood years in France to working at Salzburg Global Seminar to traveling around the world on her own and with her family.

A devoted, open-minded Christian with a sharp intellect, she earned a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 1981, at the age of 57. She used her knowledge and deep compassion to help others with lay ministry at her churches, St. Stephens’s in her home town of Cohasset, Mass. and St. John the Divine and St. Andrew By-the-Lake on Mount Desert Island, where she summered her whole life, first with her parents and then at her own piece of “Eden” at Pretty Marsh.

Pen’s parents, Penelope Parkman and Roger Griswold, met and fell in love in Northeast Harbor. Her parents developed a summer home at Seal Cove on the “quiet side” where Pen spent every summer of her childhood. Pen truly felt that MDI was her other home and fully immersed herself in the community. As Harriet Price said of her, “No summer person, from my perspective, ever melded in and had the respect of local people as much as Pen… The generosity overflowed to those of us who would not have had the splendor without her.” She delighted in sharing her special Pretty Marsh retreat with her children, grandchildren and many friends. Pen, with her ex-husband, David E. Place, was a supporter of the Jackson Laboratories, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and other community charities. An avid reader, she was a frequent contributor of books to the Southwest Harbor Library.

Pen was very active at St. John in Southwest Harbor and St. Andrew in Seal Cove, serving as a member of the vestry, building and maintaining the gardens, visiting folks who were sick in their homes, making flower arrangements for the churches and helping with the management of the parishes.

After graduating from Vassar in 1945, Pen worked in the banking business until she married David Elliott Place in 1952 and started her family of four children. After settling in Cohasset in the early ’50s, Pen became a devoted advocate for conservation, helped to start the first recycling program in Cohasset and led a tree-planting program in the schools. A passionate gardener, Pen was an early member of the Cohasset Garden Club. She cultivated with care a three-acre garden at 63 Summer St. in Cohasset for five decades. Her gardens were so spectacular that, in 1997, the Smithsonian documented them in its Archives of American Gardens. Her flower arrangements adorned many a church and festivity.

Pen’s garden was a place for folks seeking communion with nature, an after-school playing field for pick-up baseball games, and a treasure trove for flower arrangers. She was extremely generous, allowing people to cut flowers for special occasions, hosting charity events, advocating for wetlands and nature conservation and helping many people in need.

Pen is survived by her children, Elliott Place and his wife, Lucy Sagansky, of Hingham, Mass., Richard Merrill Place and his wife, Maireda Place, of New York City, Penelope Place Gleason and her husband, Bob Gleason, of Telluride, Colo., Josiah Richardson Place of Plymouth, Mass., and grandchildren, Nathan Place, Rachel Place, Mark Place, Isaac Place, step-granddaughters Nadia Shapiro, Kelli Gleason and Galena Gleason, her husband, Ryan Howe, and step-grandson, Tiyo Howe. She also leaves her sister, Hope McCrum, of Santa Rosa, Calif., her sister-in-law, Stephanie Griswold, plus several nieces and nephews. She was pre-deceased by her sister, Anne Merrill Noble; her brother, Roger Griswold and her former husband, David E. Place.

A memorial service will be held at St. Andrew’s Church in Seal Cove, on Aug. 12, 2017, at 10 a.m. There will be a reception at her summer home at west pint overlooking Pretty Marsh Harbor after the service.

Her family requests that, in lieu of flowers, gifts in remembrance of Penelope G. Place be made to St. John and St. Andrew Churches or to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Know when to pay your respects.