According to family legend, Mary Laura Bistrian was born on the kitchen table in the Cozzen’s house on Cozzen’s Lane in Amagansett. It was June 14, 1919, in the days when children were born at home.
She was the youngest of five children born to Mark Bertram Ryan Sr. and the former Edith Lula Perry, and was, through her father, a direct descendant of Anne Hutchinson, an early proponent of religious freedom and women’s rights in the colonial era, her family said.
Rather than being named Mary Almy after her paternal grandmother, who was the fourth generation with that name, she was also named for her maternal grandmother. However, “she 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 Mam by her many close friends, but known most affectionately as “Mimi to her grandchildren and great grandchildren, an appellation conferred upon her by her first of 15 grandchildren, Lynn Dale.”
Her father was the Long Island Rail Road’s assistant station master at Amagansett during World War II when German saboteurs landed in the hamlet and was later the station master at Center Moriches. Her mother had been a schoolteacher in Vermont until the family moved to Long Island at the beginning of the last century. The couple’s youngest child was the only one born on eastern Long Island.
She graduated from East Hampton High School.
She was married to Patrick (Peter) Bistrian at the Amagansett Presbyterian Church by the Rev. Clarence B. Scoville on June 26, 1937, and raised six children with him at their house on Abraham’s Landing Road in Amagansett. He died in 2003.
She died at home last Thursday at the age of 94.
Her husband and his parents had initially been potato farmers, and Mrs. Bistrian took on the role of family matriarch with great devotion — “cooking, mending, tending to all the ills and education of her children, while being a supportive wife to a very hard-working and industrious mate,” her family wrote. She continued that role as the family expanded its business ventures into construction and real estate development. She “softened the edges of our family life,” her children wrote.
“She was incredibly thoughtful and generous with her time and resources,” with both her growing family and her wide circle of friends, who often sought her wise and empathetic advice, her family said. “Although she had a sign in her kitchen stating there was no free lunch, she provided numerous delicious and nutritious meals” to her own friends, friends of friends, and her children’s friends.
Early in her life, along with her mother, she was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. Her father was a high-degree Mason.
She enjoyed golf, swimming, shopping for her friends and extended family, and organizing and taking part in family gatherings small and large. “She had a long life and a good one,” her family wrote,” and was “a treasure to her many friends and large family. She will be deeply missed.”
Mrs. Bistrian is survived by her six children, born over 22 years, Patrick Bistrian Jr. of Amagansett, Dr. Bruce Ryan Bistrian of Ipswich, Mass., Barry Albert Bistrian of East Hampton, Bonnie Mae Krupinski of East Hampton, Barbara Gail Borg of Amagansett, and Betsy Lou Avallone of Springs. Also surviving are 15 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren, and 6 great-great grandchildren.
Her siblings, Dorothy Almy Frye, Perry Ryan, Mark Betram Ryan Jr., and Albert Truax Ryan, all died before her.
A funeral was held at the Amagansett Presbyterian Church on Saturday, followed by burial at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.
Her family has suggested donations to the Scoville Hall Rebuilding Fund at Amagansett Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 764, Amagansett 11930, to the Amagansett Fire Department Ambulance Company, P.O. Box 911, Amagansett, or to the Amagansett Village Improvement Society, P.O. Box 611, Amagansett.