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Obituary: Martha Seymour Grossi

Martha Seymour Grossi died on June 23, 2009, after a brief illness. She was born in New Rochelle, NY on December 13, 1914, to Martha Rheinfrank and Alexander Duncan Seymour, an architect and later a professor of architecture at Cornell University.

Mrs. Grossi graduated from Wellesley College in 1936 and received a master’s degree in social work from Simmons School of Social Work in 1939. She trained at Boston Hospital in its neurology department and later worked for the State Charities Aid in New York City. During World War II, she provided volunteer services as a case worker.

Mrs. Grossi married Olindo Grossi, also an architect, on Sept. 26, 1940. They resided during most of the 62 years of their married life in Manhasset, Long Island, where she was active in many organizations. As a member of the League of Women Voters, she developed an expertise in international relations and trade. She was in regular attendance every year since some time in the 1950s at the luncheon series sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association. In fact, they had recently given her a complementary membership in recognition of the length of her tenure. She was a member of the United Nations Association and served as president of the North Shore chapter. She taught Sunday school at the Congregational Church in Manhasset. Her curriculum, which reflected her combined interests in biblical history and architecture, required her students to build a model of the typical house that the family of Jesus might have inhabited in Nazareth. Thus, her students learned that such a house would have had a flat rooftop, open to the sky, where the family would sleep at night. Later, she was a member of the Church’s task force that was organized to resettle a Lao family of refugees.
Mrs. Grossi supported many causes by joining organizations and providing financial support. She worked with peace groups in church organizations and was a member of the Hunger Task Force Association and Bread for the World. She was very concerned about the environment and regularly supported Environmental Defense. She wrote her senators, her congressman and the president, and tried to encourage others to take political action. She also regularly visited a nursing home once a week in neighboring Port Washington to provide some company to lonely people there.
Mrs. Grossi loved to travel and welcomed the many opportunities her husband provided for travel in connection with his academic work. They took an extended trip around the world, and later traveled to many countries in Africa and Latin America, and, for a number of years, to Rome each summer with Mr. Grossi’s architectural students. At the age of 90, with determination, joy and the support of her family, she returned to Rome for another visit. Mrs. Grossi also made annual trips to Colorado to ski with her sons, John and Thomas Grossi, until she was well into her 70s.
Beginning in 1946, when her parents purchased a summer cottage in Maine, Mrs. Grossi began spending her summers with her husband and children in Trevett, Maine, near Boothbay Harbor. Tennis, boating and island picnics were the activities she enjoyed there. She was looking forward eagerly to returning to Maine in June when illness struck.
In addition to her sons, John and Thomas, she is survived by her daughter, Susan Grossi Forsyth (Allen), her daughter-in-law, Colleen Deegan Grossi, and four grandchildren, Sage Loretta Grossi, Garrett Thomas Grossi, Katherine Marquand Forsyth, and Andrew Seymour Forsyth.
The family is planning a gathering in celebration of her life to take place in Maine in August.