Mary Cheever, a central figure in a family of prominent American writers whose most notable member was her husband, John, died in early April in Ossining, N.Y. She was 95.
Long after her husband died in 1982, Mrs. Cheever continued to live in the family home, with the couple’s three children, two of whom, Benjamin and Susan, grew up to become writers. The couple stayed married, even as John Cheever became an alcoholic and had affairs with men and women — and often wrote about it all, sometimes indirectly in his fiction, sometimes directly in his journals and letters.
Mary taught writing for a time; wrote a history of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.; and in 1980 published a book, “The Need for Chocolate & Other Poems.”
The Cheevers had met on an elevator in Manhattan when Mrs. Cheever was just out of Sarah Lawrence College and Mr. Cheever was scraping by as a writer. “He was wearing an overcoat that was too big for him,” Benjamin Cheever said. “She thought, ‘This is somebody that needs to be taken care of.’ ”
Mary was born on May 4, 1918, and grew up in New Haven. Her father, Dr. Milton Winternitz, was the dean of the Yale School of Medicine. Her mother, Dr. Helen Watson, was the daughter of Thomas A. Watson, who worked with Alexander Graham Bell. In addition to her son Benjamin and her daughter, Susan, Mrs. Cheever is survived by son, Federico, a law professor at the University of Denver; and seven grandchildren.