Susannah Coolidge Jones


Susannah Coolidge Jones died peacefully at home on Sept. 27, 2020. She was born in 1924 in Milton, Mass., the fourth of five brothers and sisters, to the former Susannah Cunningham and John T. Coolidge. She grew up in a house that her father built, full of interesting artifacts, studio and camellia greenhouses. Her mother loved to travel and by 1937 had taken the children on trips to Bermuda, France, Italy and Switzerland. She attended Beaver School, in Brookline, Mass., 1941, and later Barnard College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1947. As part of the war effort, she worked as a secretary compiling figures on the Norden Bombsight. After the war, she worked for three years in Brussels for the ICUN. In the early 1950s, she enrolled in the Yale Graduate School Conservation Program, where she met Charles F. Jones, whom she married in 1953. They lived in the suburbs of Stamford, Conn., where Charles commuted to New York City for nearly 17 years. She was, at heart, a romantic. She loved John Keats and Johannes Brahms.

She was an avid cellist. She wrote plays, a libretto adapted from Keats, poetry, essays and a book (unpublished) about the dangers of overpopulation. As a young child, her step-grandmother had taught her to embroider using the “Jacobean crewel stitch” and throughout her life she produced an outpouring of tasteful, but also wildly fanciful plants, animals, figures and landscapes rendered in cloth. In 1969, the family embarked on a year-long bicycle trip through parts of Western Europe. They spent the winter in Lisbon where they worked as apprentices in the Fundaçao Ricardo Espirito Santo Silva, an artisan-guild workshop that kept alive medieval traditions of furniture restoration. Susannah learned the “Arraiolos Rug” stitch and worked in the rug department, and Charles worked in the wooden inlay shop.

In 1970, inspired by the Pilsdon Community in England, Susannah and Charles joined Celo Community in the Black Mountains of western North Carolina. Celo Community is a land trust, founded in 1937, with its own rules of taxation and land tenure that runs its internal government by consensus. Charles and Susannah realized that the community lacked a central building and needed a landmark. They decided to build a bed and breakfast inn inspired by many bed and breakfasts of their European trip. In the tradition of her father, Celo Inn (which is still in operation) was largely built by hand. Here Susannah became the administrative director of the summer music festival, “Music in the Mountains.” In 1987, Charles and Susannah moved to Mount Desert Island. Perhaps Susannah’s overriding achievement was the enthusiasm and joy she brought to her endeavors. She carried her sunny and vivacious disposition to the very end of her life. She never complained. Her nurses loved her, and she could still bring smiles to their faces and laughter to their lips. She was courageous and noble to the end. Susannah is survived by her brother Frank and his wife, Emilie, two sons, Timothy and Amos, a daughter, Sim, two daughters-in-law, Judith and Chantal, and four grandchildren, Susannah, Mary Louisa, Jared and Zevi, Evan and his wife, Pip, two great-granddaughters, Alex and Kate, as well as nieces and nephews. She will be profoundly missed. More information can be found at

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