On Jan. 4, Dennice Rioux Carey, wonderful friend, wife of 67 years to Ray, mother of three, and grandmother of six, passed away at the age of 90.
Dennice was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts in 1928 and majored in zoology at Mt. Holyoke where she won the science award and graduated in 1950 cum laude. She was an instructor in biology at Connecticut College when she married Ray in 1951 and demonstrated her rebellious streak when, expecting Sheila in 1953, she successfully fought the policy removing pregnant women from active teaching roles. She later left teaching for an old-fashioned partnership with Ray in which she was the “roll up your sleeves” volunteer, mother par excellence, home manager, and the person who made sure everything related to the house and family was running smoothly. That also meant moves for Ray’s jobs – from Connecticut to New Jersey to Montreal then back to New Jersey – moves she handled with aplomb and grace.
While warm, funny and kind, she was also fierce in her beliefs. This included socially progressive political views to practical activism, such as when she took on “The Man” at Rumson Country Day School on behalf of holding one’s utensils European style as Lisa and Mike had learned in Montreal. That interaction did not end well for “The Man.” While generally easygoing she was never afraid to speak up and had a quick and effective wit. A tireless volunteer, she invested time, effort and her intelligence into bettering the things she believed in, from Junior League when she was young, through a lifelong involvement in MCSPCA, to helping manage Special People United to Ride (SPUR) later in life.
The life Dennice and Ray enjoyed was filled with wonderful people, places and animals. This included an increasing menagerie at home (many dogs, cats and horses) and lengthy periods spent in beautiful places. The peripatetic habit started with the warm, balmy airs of Harbour Island in the Bahamas (very not-fancy and at the time without even phone service) to which the Careys would decamp every December for over 20 years. Next was Sun Valley, Idaho, where Dennice and Ray first bought property in 1970 and would in later years spend many weeks in the spring and in the summer with their dumb but sweet Golden Retrievers, and finally Nantucket, where in 1980 they bought land at the furthest end of Eel Point, three miles of dirt road from “civilization.” This became the family compound that was home in the summer and fall. Far from the madding crowd, Dennice’s life on Nantucket centered on swimming with the dogs, sunrises and sunsets at the house, golfing with friends, but especially her life partner Ray, and beach entertaining with her children and grandchildren. She made friends easily; their social life at all these places included lots of in-home entertaining as well as wonderful circles centered in their many clubs and activities – Rumson Country Club, Seabright Beach Club, Seabright Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club, Sankaty Golf Club, Nantucket Yacht Club, and the Valley Club. The yearly rotation – New Jersey to Sun Valley to Nantucket to Sun Valley and back to New Jersey – prompted their son-in-law Matt to comment that when he died he wanted to come back as one of Dennice’s dogs.
Dennice was preceded in death by her sister Norma McGovern, brothers Joseph and Raymond Rioux, and grandson Jenner Carey Bryan. She is survived by her husband Ray, her children Sheila Bryan, daughter Lisa Carey and son-in-law Matt Ewend, son Michael and daughter-in-law Kristen Carey, and grandchildren Nash, Kelly and Abby Carey-Ewend and Patrick and Adam Carey, as well as multiple wonderful family members.
A memorial gathering was Jan. 11 at Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank, and a Mass of Christian Burial was held Jan. 12 at Holy Cross Church, Rumson. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given in her name to the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MCSPCA).