Mary Warren Schiffman

Date of Birth

March 12th, 1908

Date of Death

April 26th, 1996

Memorial Meeting

Palo Alto Friends Meeting


Mary Warren Schiffman, born March 12, 1908 in Kyoto, Japan, died April 26, 1996 of pneumonia at Pilgrim Haven retirement community in Los Altos, California.  She was 88 years old and had been ill only since January 1996.

Mary was born of missionary parents who were serving the Congregational Church in Asia.  When she was 11 or 12 years old Mary came to the U.S. with her older brother Dana to attend high school.  The two children lived in a missionary home in Massachusetts while their parents continued their missionary work in Japan.  They only saw their parents on special occasions from this time on.  She later majored in English at Mount Holyoke College and graduated from there in the class of 1929.  After that she earned a Master's degree in Education at Boston University and taught for awhile.  She also held jobs as manager of a credit union and as a bookkeeper.

She married René Schiffman.  They lived in Brooklyn, New York for most of their married life.  They had only one child, Peggy, who currently lives in Cupertino.  René worked as a translator and died in 1977.

Mary joined the Religious Society of Friends when she lived in Brooklyn and was a First Day School teacher there.  Three years after her husband's death she moved to Oklahoma City and lived there for three years before moving to California in 1983 to be closer to her daughter.  She transferred her membership to the Palo Alto Monthly Meeting on March 17, 1985.  She will long be fondly remembered for her service to our Meeting of editing material from other Meetings to be included in our newsletter and also of her faithful dedication to writing welcoming notes to each person who signed our guest book.  Her vocal ministry was always well received.  She often mentioned how important it was to her to come and be part of Meeting for Worship.

Mary had two lifelong interests: astronomy and knit lace. She was very knowledgeable about astronomy and taught a class in New York City, Recent Advances in Astronomy, that was accredited by Swarthmore College.  She also gave astronomy talks to various elementary schools. She was an expert in knit lace pattern making.  She visited lace museums in England and would later sketch these patterns and transpose them into patterns that others could work from.

Mary was determined to be active and independent all her life.  She was satisfied with her life and always accepted the world as it was.  She was rather private in her friendships which gave the impression to some that she was somewhat unfriendly, but those who got to know her found her to be very warm and considerate.

In her later life Mary lived at the Sunnyview Community Retirement Center in Cupertino.  After a serious hospital stay in 1995 she moved to Pilgrim Haven in Los Altos which has a full care facility.

Mary will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered by her friends in our Meeting.