(Chase Duffy, part of the fabric of Groton, recently passed away. On the occasion of her memorial service on June 25, her friend Margot Hammer wrote this essay for The Groton Line. — Ed.)
I met Chase 23 years ago as a young, first time mother starting a new job as assistant to the Zoning Board of Appeals. I arrived at the first meeting not knowing what to expect. After a brief welcome, Chase announced that we needed to be as efficient as possible because there was a Celtics game to watch. She also suggested that I schedule meetings around Celtics games whenever possible. It was October. I thought a season could never be so long. Long seasons not withstanding, Chase was my first mentor on the board and her editing advice was enlightening. I am forever grateful for all that she has taught me.
Chase’s wit and humor charmed me and our friendship deepened, becoming particularly strong as she helped me through a very painful divorce. Her support was unwavering and her cynical take on men kept me sane. My two daughters also benefited greatly from Chase’s friendship; my younger daughter particularly buoyed by Miss Chase (as she called her) and her Chess Pie, which Linds thought was the best ever.
We had many excellent meals together, either cooked at home or in some fine restaurant, most of the time introduced to me by Chase. We had the Old Bats’ Club, started by me after Chase began signing her emails, O.B. The O.B. Club was comprised of my mother, my then ex-mother-in-law, Chase and myself (I was an A.O.B., Almost Old Bat). We would meet every few weeks for dinner and conversation (the political ones would get very interesting: my mother-in-law was a Republican, need I say more) at my house until I moved out of Groton. Those were some fun times.
Chase had a fine sense of fashion, both elegant and trendy. I had gotten a pair of sneakers from an expensive catalogue that Chase was particularly enamored of. One day when I arrived at her house, she was bubbling with excitement, clearly itching to show me something. She pulled out a shoebox and proudly displayed the very same sneakers, in a different color and purchased at TJ Maxx for one third of the price I paid. She was cackling with glee. Only Chase, at 84, could carry off wearing those shoes. They looked so cute on her.
We both loved plants and I have cuttings from all of her beloved begonias, another daily reminder of her. One, in particular, she wanted me to have: a plant with beautifully variegated leaves. She had gotten a cutting herself from a friend who had brought it in his pocket from Vienna, where she knew my dad was from. It is one of my favorite plants, my Viennese begonia.
Chase shared so much with me, all delivered in her southern lilt and with those ever-present barbs. Whether we were sitting on her deck watching the birds or enjoying a truly rare bleu cheese burger at the Gibbet Hill Grill, her words were strong, wise, and often irreverent. Her voice still lingers in my head. Miss Chase, I love you and miss you.