Obituary: Mary-Jane Stanley

Wife of former Pomona College president

Mary-Jane Stanley, 77, wife of former Pomona College President Peter Stanley, died peacefully in Groton, Connecticut, on January 21 after a series of seizures. 

The Stanleys, including their daughter Laura, made their home in The President’s House of Pomona College from 1991 to 2003, after moving from White Plains, New York, to Claremont. 

The daughter of James Deegan Cosgrove and Jane Cox Cosgrove, Ms. Stanley was born in Hartford on January 3, 1943. She grew up in Hartford, attending St. Joseph Cathedral School and Mount Saint Joseph Academy.  She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Hartford and completed graduate work at St. Joseph’s College.

According to family and friends, Ms. Stanley was a warm, generous and independent spirit who made a difference for the good in the lives of countless people, first working with Catholic Charities, then teaching with VISTA in impoverished communities in New Mexico, and in elementary schools in Michigan and Connecticut. In 1975, while an academic administrator in the history department and the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University, she met Peter and they were married in 1978.

In 1981, Ms. Stanley gave birth to daughter Laura. Along with Peter, Laura was the love of her life. She was a loving mother, a constant volunteer in her daughter’s schools and a frequent observer of her sporting events from the bleachers. Ms. Stanley embraced all the members of her family with the same warmth and love.

Stewart R. Smith, chair of the Pomona College Board of Trustees during Mr. Stanley’s presidency, said he would remember Mary-Jane as “a delightful, smiling, elegant woman, an exemplary representative for the college over her 12 years at Pomona.”

According to Don Pattison, former director of public affairs, “Mary-Jane was not someone who relished public life, but she wholeheartedly embraced the informal and especially the playful side of this role, attending student and faculty events, supporting the Rembrandt Club, participating in a student-produced film, and hosting members of the college or wider community in the President’s House.” 

She was particularly supportive of the college’s working staff, the secretaries, housekeepers, groundskeepers, food service employees and others, who in turn regarded her as one of their own.

Wanting to retain roots in Connecticut, the Stanleys had purchased a small house in Old Saybrook when they moved to California.  Retiring in 2003, they lived there until 2015. Then, to accommodate Ms. Stanley’s needs following a stroke, they moved to the Fairview Retirement Community in Groton. She was a member of St. James Episcopal Church in New London and was active in several programs there, especially the Lord’s Pantry. 

She is survived by Peter, daughter Laura Stanley Hollot (Nicholas), two grandsons (William and Oliver Hollot) in Philadelphia, and her six siblings. A burial service will be private, and a memorial service will take place in the fu


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