On this Wednesday, October 19th at the regular 8pm meeting of the City Council, Rye will have a moment of silence and remembrance for former Mayor Mary Ann Isle who passed away on October 7th. After a term on the City Council, Mary Ann served as Mayor from 1985 to 1989 and was the first and only woman to serve as Mayor in the City’s 70-year history.
“One of the things I learned from Mary Ann 25 years ago is still is paramount today. In this day and age of political party ideology or self-proclaimed independent points of view, the real key to governing and leading is to not just have a point of view – everyone has one, but to work with people, build consensus and get things done that are in the best interests of those you serve,” said Mayor Douglas French.
Mayor Ilse had many accomplishments during her administration — the City approved the long-term lease and relationship with the Rye Art Center at 51 Milton Road, the demolition of the Jay Mansion and Carriage House was stopped, the Boston Post Road Historic District received National Historic Landmark designation, the blue recycling boxes were introduced to the community, a referendum was passed authorizing the City to take over garbage collection, the Rye 2000 Committee was established, and a coastal Zone Management Plan was approved.
“It should not be forgotten that Mary Ann was a trailblazer, the only woman to serve as Mayor in the City of Rye. Her pragmatism, ability to build consensus among partisan interests and sense of humor went a long way in meeting the many challenges that faced the City during her tenure," added her long-time friend, the Honorable Annette Guarino.
Many of the same issues facing the City then are still being addressed today: Development at the County Airport, a local law to conform with amendments to the National Flood Insurance Program, a Beaver Swamp Brook Watershed Study done to study flooding and water runoff conditions, discussions about Blind Brook that included floodwater detention structures on Anderson Hill Road, an amendment to the Tree Ordinance was considered and its impact on clear cutting, enforcement and rights of property owners, parking for commuters, downtown, and beach area. During her time in Rye she ran a yarn shop on Purchase Street and spoke with residents about everything – not just yarn.
Fellow Councilman and former Rye City Judge John Alfano reflected "Mary Ann prided herself as being Rye's first female Mayor. She faced many significant issues during her term of office including the City taking over the trash collection function from a private contractor and the negotiation of the lease of the 51 Milton Avenue building to the Rye Arts Center."
Mary Ann died peacefully on Cape Cod surrounded by her family after a year-long struggle with cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you send a contribution in Mary Ann's name to Yarmouth New Church, 260 Route 6A, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675.
The Cape Cod Times also carried an obituary.