• Created Date
  • 1936
  • Description
  • Mrs. Anne Sullivan Macy, who for nearly 50 years has been the teacher and companion of Helen Keller, famous blind, deaf and mute author and lecturer, died early today in the home she shared with Miss Keller and the latter's secretary, Miss Polly Thomson, in Forest Hills, L.I. Miss Keller said: "My teacher is free at last from pain and blindness. I pray for strength to endure the silent dark until she smiles upon me again. "She has gone from me... more
    Mrs. Anne Sullivan Macy, who for nearly 50 years has been the teacher and companion of Helen Keller, famous blind, deaf and mute author and lecturer, died early today in the home she shared with Miss Keller and the latter's secretary, Miss Polly Thomson, in Forest Hills, L.I. Miss Keller said: "My teacher is free at last from pain and blindness. I pray for strength to endure the silent dark until she smiles upon me again. "She has gone from me a little while, but I shall feel her presence anew when my eyes are blessed with light, my ears saved unto harmony and my imprisoned life set free." Mrs. Macy, who was 70 years old, became ill last summer, recuperated to some extent but suffered a relapse last week. Mrs. Macy and Miss Keller were to have received the Roosevelt medals next Monday for "a co-operative achievement of heroic character and far-reaching significance - the release and development of an imprisoned personality which, by its emergence and its effective activity, has become a symbol of hope and an inspiration to effort." For forty-nine years, Mrs. Macy devoted her life to Miss Helen Keller, the blind and deaf author, teaching her to speak and how to read. Then a few years ago her own sight failed and their positions were reversed. Mrs. Macy became the pupil and Miss Keller the teacher. They system of Braille had changed since Mrs. Macy first began instructing her pupil, then a little girl of six and a half years old. Miss Keller Learns to Speak In those forty-nine years Miss Keller had overcome her muteness and had gained from Mrs. Macy a knowledge of the world which she had never seen. She had become an inspiration to others afflicted with blindness and had won fame as a writer and scholar. The two remained inseparable through the years and Miss Keller never miss an opportunity to express her gratitude. "Mrs. Macy's birthday was the Easter morning of my life," she once said. Mrs. Macy, then Miss Anne Mansfield Sullivan of Wrentham, Mass., was a pupil-teacher at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in 1888, when Miss Keller's father went to the school to select a teacher. Helen was then 6 1/2. Her teacher was 21. Miss Keller's father selected Mrs. Macy and the job became her life work, Even after she was married to John A. Macy, author and critic, in 1905, she continued as Miss Keller's companion. Mr. Macy died on August 26, 1932. "My own life," Mrs. Macy said once, "is so interwoven with Helen's life that I can't separate myself from her." Her own eyes, never strong, began to fail in 1933, but she kept up Miss Keller's lessons as long as she was able. She lost sight one one eye and the the sight of the other began to grow dim. [Illegible word] to learn the modern Braille system of reading and turned to Miss Keller for help. In June of 1933 she and Keller sailed for Scotland and went into seclusion in the Highlands, at Urray in Ross-Shire. They remained there for several months and then returned to this country. Miss Keller and Mrs. Macy went to Forest Hills, where they lived at 71-11 112th street, with Miss Polly Thomson, Miss Keller's secretary. In November 1934 she underwent an operation for cataract at Doctors' Hospital, East End avenue and Eighty-seventh street. The operation restored her sight partially, remedying defects from which she had suffered since childhood. Temple University offered honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters to both Mrs. Macy and Miss Keller. Miss Keller accepted, but Mrs. Macy could not be persuaded to accept until the following year. In 1932 Sir Robert Rait, principal of the University of Glasgow, conferring an honorary LL. D. degree on Miss Keller, said, "We honor also the teacher and friend whose devotion and whose genius rendered the triumph possible." Both women were elected honorary fellows of the Educational Institute of Scotland. Funeral services will be held at 2 P. M. Thursday in the Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, it was announced at Miss Keller's home. The services will be conducted by the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick. Newspaper clipping from the New York Evening Sun on October 20, 1936. Headline: Mrs. Anne Macy is Dead at 70- End Comes at Forest Hills to Helen Keller's Teacher- Became Ill Last Summer. New York Evening Sun. less
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  • Samuel P. Hayes Research Library, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA. Contact host institution for more information.