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Quaker activist, mental therapist

Margery Mears Larrabee, 89, of Medford, a psychotherapist and Quaker activist, died of complications from heart surgery Dec. 1 at Temple University Hospital.

Margery Mears Larrabee lived in Medford.
Margery Mears Larrabee lived in Medford.Read more

Photo of Margery M. Larrabee by Benjamin Larrabee.

Margery Mears Larrabee, 89, of Medford, a psychotherapist and Quaker activist, died of complications from heart surgery Dec. 1 at Temple University Hospital.

In the 1940s, Mrs. Larrabee and her husband, Kent, joined the Collingswood Friends Meeting and embraced the Quaker convictions of peace and justice, their son Arthur said.

They also became followers of Scott Nearing, an early conservationist and advocate of simple living.

Mrs. Larrabee canned the bounty from her vegetable garden and made her children's clothes. She taught her children how to identify tracks in the snow and to name constellations.

In later years, she was an elder in the Friends General Conference Traveling Ministries Program, a board member of the Friends Conference on Religion and Psychology, and a student and teacher at the Servant Leadership School, an ecumenical center for theological reflection and spiritual formation in Washington.

She was also a workshop leader and lecturer on Quaker practice; wrote two pamphlets, "Spirit-led Eldering" and "There Is a Hunger: Mutual Spiritual Friendship"; and cowrote the pamphlet "Spiritual Friendships."

Though Mrs. Larrabee's husband became the more visible activist - going to jail as a conscientious objector during World War II and avoiding paying taxes that funded wars - she witnessed in less obvious but no less meaningful ways, their son said.

"She was a deeply spiritual woman who has left an imprint of holiness on generations of people," said Arthur Larrabee, who is general secretary of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Mrs. Larrabee grew up in Hudson Falls, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University, where she captained the women's basketball team and was a diver. She met her husband at Syracuse, and they married after she graduated in 1941.

While living in Bucks County in the 1950s, Mrs. Larrabee taught first grade at Newtown Friends School. When the  home of  black family in Levittown was vandalized, Mrs. Larrabee and her husband joined with other whites to support the family and protect the home from further damage.

She and her husband later moved to Wilmington, where she was an advocate for children for Delaware's Department of Welfare. While living in Delaware, she earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1965, she and her husband moved to Washington. They divorced in the 1970s.

In Washington, Mrs. Larrabee established a private psychotherapy practice. She moved to Medford Leas, a retirement community, in 1999.

When she was 70,  Mrs. Larrabee  invited friends and family to a "Croning" party. Though crone is now often used as a perjorative, she celebrated the ancient definitiion meaning a wise older woman worthy of respect, her son said.

She was involved in Quaker activities well into her 80s, her son said.

In addition to him, Mrs. Larrabee is survived by another son, Benjamin; a daughter, Deborah; a sister; and two grandchildren. Her former husband died in October.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. next Sunday at Arch Street Friends Meeting House, Fourth and Arch Streets.