Margery Phinney

Margery Phinney

Born 1922

Marge Phinney, April 2020. Portrait by Serena Parente Charlebois of Serena’s Studio.

I was born in 1922 in Rochester, NY. Soon afterwards, my parents divorced, and my mother, two sisters and I went to live with my grandparents, my father’s parents: Dr. and Mrs. Clarence A. Barbour. At the time, my grandfather was a Baptist Minister at the Lake Avenue Baptist Church in Rochester. But, in 1929 he was appointed President of Brown University, so we all moved to Providence into the President’s house which was like living in a palace!

I was 7 now and in the second grade and, along with my sisters, attended Mary C. Wheeler School. I lived with them until 7th grade when my mother remarried, and we moved to Waterbury, CT. I attended middle school there and then Crosby High School, where I graduated with the class of 1940.  I soon attended Post Junior College in Waterbury to pursue a secretarial degree, but left early to go to Hollywood, California to live with my aunt who was a voice teacher for some of Hollywood’s most famous of the day!  I was there for just a short time, but enjoyed working at the local USO and helping out our soldiers. 

I soon returned to Providence to settle into a single girl’s life.  I was now about 20. Once there, I entered the working world and began as a bank teller with the Industrial National Bank.  It was through a great group of friends who skied together and played together that I met Bill Phinney, a Providence native, who became my husband when I was 25.  By 27, I bore a son, Craig and by 30, I had a daughter, Bonnie.  As soon as Bonnie started school, I went back into the working world, this time in the Providence school system as a secretary so that I could have my summers off to be with the kids.  Classical High School and Hope High started me off. Then, Moses Brown and eventually Brown University, in the Athletic Department.

As for where we lived, Bill and I started in Touisset, the seaside part of Swansea, Massachusetts where in the summers, Bill was the Soda Jerk at the local tennis club, and I taught tennis as the tennis pro.  When Bonnie was about 3 ½ and Craig 6, we moved to Barrington where we stayed until retirement.  It was in the summer of 1965 when we first learned about Little Compton.  It was through some great friends, Martha and Moe Eskelund – Martha had been summering in Little Compton since she was a little girl.  She knew of a friend renting cottages at Briggs Beach and thought it would be a great spot to vacation for us.  And, she was right!  We loved it!  And, by the summer of 1968 we were able to get a place for the entire summer.  The kids were now in high school and college, so they were able to get summer jobs, Bonnie at the Stone House and Craig at Briggs Beach as a lifeguard.

Finally when Bonnie and Craig had moved on, in the fall of 1974, Bill and I decided to buy a house down here with the intention of retiring into it some day. We bought the old Hart Farm on South Shore Road, and re-named it, the Phinney Pharm. And since the summer of 1981 we lived here full time. 

I have loved being a part of this community.  I spent many a morning, when first retired, getting to know a lot of the local folks over coffee at the Commons Lunch.  Starting in the summer of 1968, Bill and I enjoyed our membership at the Sakonnet Golf Club, to which I am still a member!  I recall the countless hours spent tackling the handicap roster with Cindy Flanagan and keeping all the postings in order – year after year!!  Bill and I thoroughly enjoyed playing golf, though not necessarily with each other, but admit to being some of the founding members of the over 60 group on Monday afternoons starting in the 1980s.  We were frequent patrons of the Stone House, starting with Jon and Genie Rawson who were great friends.  Summer after summer there were many, many parties and lots of friends.  Bill’s and my parties, whether it was for a birthday or anniversary, were always a fabulous time as we insisted on having a dance trio for people to kick up their heels. It was truly a wonderful way to spend our summers.

In the wintertime, I became involved in the Congregational Church in town and when it was time for the church to create a Board of Trustees, I was asked to be the President, which I enjoyed for several years.  Volunteering at the Thrift Shop and working at countless Church Fairs, being on more committees than I can remember over the years, my time with the church through several ministers has been one of the highlights of my retirement. Living in Little Compton has been a true blessing in my life.  The people I have known through the years, the organizations I have helped and the environment that I was able to give to my children for their summers growing up and, for Bonnie, a place to raise her children, are just some of the reasons this will always be my home sweet home.

Margery Phinney

April 2020


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