Emily Patricia Groves Pitkin Chapman
Emily Patricia Groves Pitkin Chapman died peacefully in Sarasota, Florida, on Feb. 21, with her niece, Chris Chapman, by her side. Born July 19, 1927, she was 94.
Aunt Pat, as her family called her, was a lifelong resident of Guilford and then Madison. She graduated from the St. Margaret’s School for Girls in Westbury, in 1945, and matriculated at Bradford Junior College of Bradford, Massachusetts, the same year. In 1946, at age 19, she married Edward Pitkin, a World War II veteran and a descendant of William Pitkin, an early Connecticut governor. The couple settled in Guilford, where Ed opened a jewelry store on the Guilford Green, while also pursuing his passion for collecting coins and rare stamps. Aunt Pat’s mother, Mary Eaton Groves, an accomplished painter and a pianist, gave piano and art lessons in Guilford in the 1940s through the ‘70s. Mary met her English-born husband, the Very Rev. Joseph Groves, aboard an ocean liner traveling from Southampton, U.K., to the U.S.—the pair were engaged by the end of the 10-day voyage.
In 1948, Aunt Pat’s parents purchased the Comfort Starr House on State Street in Guilford, a classic saltbox house with an added lean-to. The house was built in 1695, making it the oldest privately owned wood house in the U.S. Aunt Pat lived most of her adult life in Guilford, on Flat Meadow Road, where she hosted many family dinners and holidays. In the 1980s, she and Ed began spending winters at Pelican Cove in Sarasota, Florida, and after Ed’s death in 1989, she purchased a townhouse in Madison, not far from Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tail (where she always ordered the deep-fried shrimp). For many years, Aunt Pat worked at the Green Gallery, a gift shop located on the Guilford Green; she used her earnings to fund her many solo trips to Europe, North Africa, and Asia (Ed was not a travel enthusiast). Summers were spent hosting friends and family at the Pitkin cottage (the “shack”) in Buffalo Bay, Madison.
After Ed died, Aunt Pat met and married James Winslow Chapman, a winter resident of Pelican Cove. Jim was a sophisticated yet unassuming New Englander from Damariscotta, Maine, who was passionate about photography. He was a charter member of the Boston Camera Club, where he won many competitions. (The romance began when Aunt Pat put Ed’s bike up for sale, and Jim came calling.) Pat and Jim lived in Madison, Damariscotta, and Sarasota, until Jim’s death in 2003. As a Mainer, lobster was his last meal.
After Jim’s death, Aunt Pat split her time between Madison and Pelican Cove, where she participated in weekly dances, attended jazz recitals, and arranged flowers for her church. She was involved with the Sarasota Institute for Lifetime Learning (SILL) during much of her time in Sarasota, and was a board member of SILL from 1996 to 2014, as well as assistant vice president for registration. Pat was an active member of both her winter and summer Episcopal church communities, St. Boniface in Siesta Key, Florida, and Christ Church in Guilford. At Christ Church in Guilford, Pat was an active member of the congregation. She was a member of the St. Margaret’s Women’s Guild, and was one of the needlepointers of the communion kneelers. Pat was also involved in the financial management of the church by assisting the treasurer, who joked that his wife called her “his other wife.” Aunt Pat also served Guilford, by frequently volunteering to sit on juries, sometimes as often as once a month. Pat was known to get a bridge game going with others in the jury pool while waiting to be called up.
In 2018, Pat relocated to Windsor Reflections, a residential memory care facility in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, where she was well cared for and beloved by all.
Survivors include her sister-in-law Sally Groves, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who was married to Pat’s brother, Joseph Mellor Groves, for 35 years. “Jeph,” as he was known, died in 1989. Pat also leaves her nephews Josh Groves of Brooklyn and Wellfleet and his wife Julie Carlson, and Ned Groves and his wife Deborah Rhodes, of Madison, as well as her four grandchildren by proxy: William, Darcy, Caroline, and Katharine Groves. She remained close to her Pitkin in-laws throughout her life, including Patty Harrington Siebert, Polly Harrington Baran, and Peggy Harrington Vegh. She is remembered fondly by her first cousins Emily Eaton and Ruth Eaton Schemel.
Aunt Pat traveled the world with her niece Chris Chapman, an artist in Maine, and Chris’s wife Elaine Cyr, also an artist. Together they visited Hawaii, Seattle, Alaska, London, Hamburg, Tallin, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Cologne, cities along the Rhine river, Passau, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, Naples, the Amalfi coast, Florence, Rome, Venice, Athens, Mykonos, Istanbul, Ephesus, Cozumel, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands. She was a good sport and loved every minute, even the ones when she had to struggle to keep up.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Aunt Pat’s name to the Sarasota Institute for Lifetime Learning (SILL), https://sillsarasota.org/. There will be a memorial service for Emily Patricia Groves Pitkin Chapman at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, at Christ Episcopal Church in Guilford.