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Aileen Abigail Campbell McCausey, nurse and artist, dies

Aileen Campbell McCausey
Aileen Campbell McCausey (HANDOUT)

Aileen Abigail Campbell McCausey, a health care provider, author and artist, died Aug. 22 at Integrace Fairhaven in Sykesville after an allergic reaction to medication. She was 98.

Mrs. McCausey was one of three children. She was born and grew up in the north of Scotland on the estates of Brahan Castle, where her father was the head gardener. Her mother was a domestic servant who made her home on estate as well.

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Mrs. McCausey got her first taste of the arts when she studied art and poetry with James Pittendrigh Macgillivary, the painter and sculptor to the royal family.

She became a nurse at the Royal Infirmary in Perth and served at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh during World War II. She also worked at a children's hospital, where she was employed as a district nurse. It was during her time in the United Kingdom that she met her future husband, John Dearie, who was in the Royal Air Force.

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The couple immigrated to Ontario, Canada, in 1947 before moving a few months later to Washington, D.C. The family settled in Columbia.

She began working at Georgetown University Hospital. In 1963 she went back to school to receive her certification from the American College of Nurse Midwifery at the School of Hygiene at the Johns Hopkins University. She worked as a nurse-midwife and registered nurse until 1985.

"Mom was a wonderful human being and a magnificent woman who lived an amazing life," said her son, Doug Dearie, who lives in Bowie. "She lived life to the fullest. And she taught all those who were watching how to age with grace."

After her divorce from her first husband, Mrs. McCausey moved to Ellicott City.

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It was her love of Scottish culture that led her to meet her second husband, Bert McCausey, a newspaperman at The Baltimore Sun.

The two met at a Scottish dance gathering.

"They hit it off," Mr. Dearie said. "He was a colorful character. He was a fine man."

Following her husband's death in the early 1990s, she began to expand her creative pursuits.

She moved to Woodstock, Va. She worked at Gingham Cottage, an art gallery in New Market, Va. For close to two decades. Mrs. McCausey wrote five books and created artwork while living in Woodstock, Va.

"She had quite an active life in the Shenandoah Valley," Mr. Dearie said.

Mrs. McCausey was also known for her storytelling ability.

She would go to Highland gatherings throughout the country where she would perform dramatic readings from her books.

Mr. Dearie fondly remembers his mother and his late Aunt "Ara" sitting around recounting tales of their childhood and life in Scotland "in their gorgeous Scottish accents," he said. "They were both wonderful storytellers."

Through her books and artwork, Mrs. McCausey was able to share her love of her Scottish culture, compassion and wisdom to every person she encountered, according to Mr. Dearie.

"She was the kind of individual that you could never forget, whether you only met her once or you were lucky enough to spend time with her every day. She was never too busy to talk about anything and everything, sometimes even breaking out into song midway through a conversation," he said. "She made you feel important and cared about, showing genuine interest in everything you do and say."

In 2009, she moved to Sykesville to be closer to family.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 24 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 7538 Main St., in Sykesville.

In addition to her son, Mrs. McCausey is survived by a daughter, Cherry Dearie-Smith, of Easton; two other sons, Stewart Dearie, of Sykesville, and John William Dearie, of Worthington, Mass.; seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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