Mary Laura Bistrian died May 1 at her home in Amagansett. She was 94.
Ms. Bistrian was born on June 14, 1919, on the kitchen table, according to family legend in the Cozzen House on Cozzen’s Lane, in the days when children were birthed at home in Amagansett. She was the youngest of the five children of Mark Bertram Ryan Sr. and Edith Lula Perry. Her father was the assistant station master at Amagansett when the German saboteurs landed on the beach there during World War II and later was the station master at Center Moriches, before retiring after 32 years with the Long Island Rail Road. Her mother had been a schoolteacher in Vermont until the family moved to Long Island at the beginning of the last century, and Ms. Bistrian was their only child born on eastern Long Island. Her paternal grandmother was the fourth generation to be named Mary Almy, and somewhat to her mother-in-law’s chagrin, her mother, Edith, chose to name her first child Dorothy Almy, leaving Ms. Bistrian to continue the tradition in a different manner, with the middle name adopted from her maternal grandmother.
Ms. Bistrian, a graduate of East Hampton High School, was usually not known by her given name but by a number of nicknames, initially “Babe,” because she was the baby of the family, later “Mame” by her many close friends, but known most affectionately as “Mimi” by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, an appellation conferred upon her by Lynn Dale, the first of her 15 grandchildren. To her own children, of which there are six, she was known simply as “Ma” by the boys and “Mom” by the girls. She is also survived by 28 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. Her siblings, Dorothy Almy Frye, Perry Ryan, Mark Bertram Ryan Jr., and Albert Truax Ryan, all predeceased her.
Ms. Bistrian was devoted to her six children, born over a period of 22 years. Initially a member of a farm family, since her husband and his parents were all potato farmers, she was the centerpiece of the family, cooking, mending, tending to the ills and education of her children, while being a supportive wife to a very hard-working and industrious mate. Later, with the family’s expansion into construction and real estate development, she continued to be the main support for her growing family. When she was faced with the occasional need for an appropriate response to one of her children’s transgressions, her initial disciplinary action was usually, “Wait until your father gets home,” but most often the offense and its punishment were mitigated by her children’s promises to “never to do it again,” thus softening the edges of the family life.
Survivors said she was incredibly thoughtful and generous with her time and resources to family even after they were grown, and to a wide circle of friends who came to her home to share their concerns and to benefit from her kind, wise, and empathetic advice. Although she had a sign in her kitchen stating that there was no free lunch, she provided numerous delicious and nutritious meals to her own friends, friends of her children, and friends of friends, many of whom were frequent repeaters, survivors said. Early in her life she, along with her mother, were enthusiastic members of the Order of the Eastern Star, with her father being a high degree Mason.
Through her father’s line she was a direct descendant of Anne Hutchinson, an early proponent in the colonial era of religious freedom and women’s rights. She enjoyed golf, swimming, shopping for her friends and extended family, and organizing and participating in small and large family gatherings. She had a long life and a good one, survivors said.
Her children, all of whom survive, from eldest to youngest are Patrick Bistrian Jr., Bruce Ryan Bistrian, MD and PhD, Barry Albert Bistrian, Bonnie Mae Krupinski, Barbara Gail Borg and Betsy Lou Avallone. Her grandchildren are Lynn Ann Dale, Peter David Bistrian, Leigh Anne Keyes, Kim Rebecca Slater, Patrick Bistrian III, Tennille Ryan Treadwell, Jordan Brooke Regan, Britton Perry Bistrian, Christa Elizabeth Chekanov, Barry Joseph Bistrian, Patrick Ryan Bistrian, Laura Ann Krupinski, Edward Templeton Borg II, Bridgett Almy Borg and Ashley Avallone.
Visitation was on Friday, May 2, at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. A funeral service took place at Amagansett Presbyterian Church on May 3, with interment following at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.
Memorial donations may be made to the Scoville Hall Rebuilding Fund at the First Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 764; Amagansett Fire Department Ambulance Company, P.O. Box 911; or the Amagansett Village Improvement Society, P.O. Box 611. All are in Amagansett, NY 11930.