Martha Wren Briggs

Published 4:09 pm Monday, July 3, 2017

Martha Wren Briggs, 84, died July 2, 2017, at her residence, “Twelve Oaks,” the family farm on Wakefield Road, Southampton County.
She was born in Princeton, New Jersey, on May 30, 1933, to Garland Baird Briggs, who was an educator and then treasurer of IBM, and Mattie Williams Briggs.
She resided in the New York City area, including Port Washington, New York, until her retirement in 1987, after which she and her mother moved to Williamsburg, Virginia. She moved to the family farm in 2014.
Miss Briggs was a graduate of the College of William & Mary (’55) with a degree in fine arts. She then earned her master’s in art history from New York University, after which she was art librarian at C.W. Post College in Greenvale, New York.
She was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, DAR, UDC, The Southampton County Historical Society and the Jamestown Society. She was the owner of Dory Press, and a Methodist. Her accomplishments were recognized by Who’s Who in America.
Miss Briggs wrote many articles for scholarly publications, and a series of books for children based on the Jamestown Ferry and its forays into local history and lore. She was an authority on the life and art of Louis Comfort Tiffany, as evidenced by two of her publications: “The Compass Windows of Blandford Church” (1992) and “America’s First Industrial Artist: Louis Comfort Tiffany,” published in 2016 under the auspices of the Muscarelle Museum of Art at William & Mary.
Miss Briggs was a loyal and generous alumna of William & Mary, as attested to by the significant undertakings with which her name is associated: Art & Art History scholarships and The Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre at Lake Matoaka. In 2016, the Board of Visitors announced that the planned expanded and renovated home of the Muscarelle Museum of Art at William & Mary would be named The Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts. In 2008, she was presented an Alumni Service Award.
Her many first cousins all predeceased her, and she is survived by their numerous descendants. Special gratitude is expressed to her caregivers who made it possible for her to remain at the family farm until the end of her life and enjoy the birds and other creatures and the growing plants.
The graveside service will be in the Williams Family Graveyard located at 13396 Wakefield Road, Sedley, Virginia, on Wednesday, July 5, at 10 a.m.
Memorial donations may be made to William & Mary in her memory, to Office of Gift Accounting, P.O. Box 1693, Williamsburg, Virginia, 23187-1693, or to a charity of choice.
R.W. Baker & Co., Wakefield Chapel, is serving the family.
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