Priscilla Alden Hathaway, 87

Apr 22, 2019
Priscilla Alden Hathaway, 87, of Mattapoisett, professional artist, teacher, and environmentalist passed away April 20, at her home after a prolonged illness. 

The daughter of the late Andrew J. and Gladys (Maertins) Alden and the wife of Bradford Allen Hathaway, she was born in Brockton and lived in Braintree during her youth. Her family moved permanently to Mattapoisett in 1948 after summering at Aucoot Cove beginning in the 1930’s. She was a descendant of 13 Mayflower passengers. 

She graduated from Fairhaven High School in 1949, where she met her future husband. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in art education from Boston University and taught elementary art first in New Bedford and later in Framingham, Westport and Mattapoisett. 

She and her husband were married on July 3, 1954, at the Mattapoisett Congregational Church. They were married just shy of 65 years.  An accomplished artist, she sold her works locally and through galleries on the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and Anguilla. 

Her father was the owner of Aucoot Boatyard and her bonds to Aucoot Cove and Buzzards Bay naturally followed. As a young girl she learned to sail on her gaff-rigged sailboat, Little Coot, and for many years after she and her husband cruised around the bay on their Cape Dory Typhoon. 

Her environmental work began as a water tester for Save Our Seas a grassroots organization in Marion concerned with pollution in Aucoot Cove and adjacent Hiller Cove. 

For more than 12 years she was a volunteer Bay Watcher for the Buzzards Bay Coalition. In 1995 she was the recipient of the Wanderer’s Keel Award. In 2010 she and her husband received the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Guardian Award for their environmental work. 

She was a co-founder of the Mattapoisett Land Trust, serving on its first board of directors. She also served several years as a Mattapoisett representative to the state’s Coastal Zone Management. 

Priscilla became interested in Mattapoisett history at an early age while hunting for Native American artifacts along the Northwestern shore of Aucoot Cove. Part of her collection of arrowheads and other artifacts are on permanent loan at the Mattapoisett Historical Society. A lifetime member of that organization, she served as its president and a member of its board of directors. She was responsible for having a 1700’s loom dismantled in the attic of her father’s home (the Isaac Hiller homestead at Aucoot) and reassembled at the Historical Society’s museum. 

As a member of the Mattapoisett Historical Commission, she led a small group of town women on weekly trips, over several years, to the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, where they dated more than 100 of Mattapoisett’s oldest houses and arranged for the black and white markers displayed on those buildings. 

Priscilla’s spiritual journey took a major turn at mid-life when she became a member of the Mattapoisett Monthly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends. For several years she served as clerk of the historic Quaker Meeting in East Mattapoisett. In 1991, she played a leading role in planning construction of the meeting’s new community hall. 

She was an active member the Mattapoisett Women’s Club and its Garden Group for many years. Different rhododendrons, many from the Dexter Estate on Cape Cod, surround her home. In addition to gardening, she enjoyed saltwater fishing and shellfishing, playing tennis with a women’s group in Tinkhamtown, bicycling, hiking and birding. When her sons were young, she was a Cub Scout Den Mother. She was an excellent cook. She loved the outdoors, especially the woods, the beaches, the sand flats and the marshes at Aucoot. 

Priscilla was a member of other organizations over the years including Marion Art Center, Westport Art Group, Rochester Land Trust, Sippican Lands Trust, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Nasketucket Bird Club, and Alewives Anonymous. 

Survivors include her husband, a daughter Jane, and two sons David and Joshua; sisters Faith Paulsen of Marion, Jean Wist (Walt) of South Carolina, and Dorothy Whittaker (Brendan) of Vermont; a brother-in-law Malcolm R. Hathaway (Patricia) of North Carolina; and many nieces and nephews. She was the sister of the late Elizabeth Roe. 

A memorial service in the Quaker tradition will be held at 11:30, Saturday April 27, at the Mattapoisett Friends Meeting House, 103 Marion Road, followed by a reception in the meeting’s Community Hall. For those unable to attend the service, there will be opportunity to greet the family between 9 and 10:30 a.m. in the meeting house. Please omit flowers. Those who choose may send donations in her name to the Mattapoisett Land Trust, P.O. Box 31, Mattapoisett, MA 02739 to be used to protect land in the Aucoot District. 

Arrangements are with the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Rd., Route 6, Mattapoisett. For online guestbook, please visit