PRISCILLA RICHIE KEENE
After 79 years of a full life rich with experiences, contributions to others and 57 years of a happy marriage, Priscilla Richie Keene died peacefully at home on Sept. 24, 2018, in the presence of her loving husband and daughter, and a marvelous nurse from Hospice. Born in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 27, 1939, she started life in Greenbelt, Md., a demonstration cooperative community.
After WWII, her family, father Comly Bird Richie, mother Emma Perry Brown Richie and older brother Edward Laurence Richie, moved closer to Quaker communities and relatives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey by settling in West Chester, Pa. Nurtured by extended families, both Ned and Priscilla attended Westtown School, where they cemented their desire to live lives of service to others. It was also there where she met her future husband, James Keene. After getting her bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Skidmore College, she and Jim married and headed off for two years of teaching Arab students from all over the Middle East and America in the Ramallah Friends School in Palestine. During this time, they were able to take trips throughout Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon with a side trip to Egypt.
In 1964, she completed her dietetic internship in Indiana, becoming an ADA registered dietitian. In the fall of 1964, she moved to Stony Brook, N.Y., where Jim had obtained a job at Stony Brook University. For the following 31 years, Priscilla used her skills in dietetics and nutrition in a wide variety of ways, including teaching, developing diets, educational handouts and diet manuals with a variety of employers including SBU, private nursing homes, a WIC program for unwed mothers, Suffolk Community College and Suffolk County. Along the way she also obtained a master’s degree in health education and, in 1967, gave birth to her daughter, Julie Catherine Keene, who herself has gone on to earn doctoral degrees in animal nutrition and veterinary medicine and is now a practicing veterinarian.
In 1995, Priscilla and Jim decided to proceed to their next stage of life, moving into a home they had purchased earlier in Seal Cove on Mount Desert Island. There they became deeply involved in the activities in the towns of Tremont, Southwest Harbor and the rest of the Island. Priscilla worked with the Island Arts Association and helped build artisan shops in Bass Harbor and SW Harbor, which helped promote and provide jobs for local artisans. Her own business, Seal Cove Creations, featured her handwork including paintings, some of which had flowers embroidered in them, quilted paintings, “paintings” made from pieces of fabric hand sewn together, and knitted items, many of which were stuffed animals much loved by children. She also became very active in the Tremont Historical Society and the running of its wonderful museum, Tremont’s sesquicentennial celebration, participating in and contributing to the very special hiking group, the Footloose Friends, which helped her discover so many of the natural marvels of Mount Desert Island, and in the Quaker Acadia Friends Meeting.
Priscilla and Jim’s final move came in 2015 when they decided that they needed to simplify their lives in recognition of their advancing years. They purchased a cottage in the Dirigo Pines Retirement Community in Orono and, true to form, quickly participated in and became supportive of the many activities available while making many good friends.
Priscilla is survived by her husband, Jim, daughter Julie, her husband Chris Eskesen, and son Ian James Keene Eskesen, and her brother, Edward Richie and his wife, Alberta.
A celebration of her life will be held in Northeast Harbor under the care of the Acadia Society of Friends in the spring, date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Tremont Historical Society, P.O. Box 215, Bass Harbor, ME 04653 or to Maine Audubon, 20 Gilsland Farm Rd., Falmouth, ME 04105.