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Martha Doscher, 96, New Canaan Gardens President

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Martha Derby Doscher, a 70-year resident of New Canaan, died April 22 at Waveny Care Center. She was 96.

Doscher was born Feb. 17, 1916, in Taunton, Mass., to Rodney and Helen Mathewson Derby. Her family moved to Little Neck on Long Island, N.Y., where she grew up and graduated from Flushing High School. After receiving a secretarial degree, Doscher worked for Lily Tulip Cup Corp. in Manhattan, where she met and later married Fenelon "Fen" K. Doscher in 1938.

Doscher and her husband discovered New Canaan on picnic escapes from the city. They rented there throughout World War II and built their family home, nicknamed "Greensleeves," in 1947 on West Road. They raised four children there, enjoying grounds with a pond, boats and a host of animals, including chickens, ducks, geese and a donkey named Jody who was infamous for escapes and was often returned by neighbors.

An avid gardener, Doscher was a longtime member and then president of the New Canaan Garden Center. She presided when the azalea gardens of the Lee property were given to the town in perpetuity. A frequent hostess, Doscher provided dinners, entertainment and lodging for friends. She also loved to sing and play the organ at holiday gatherings and to sing "Evita" at the Roger Sherman Inn.

Doscher held an annual celebration of Kentucky Derby day and cherished her Derby ancestry, from the ship captains of Salem, who opened trade with China after the American Revolution, to Andrew Derby of Acton who fought at Concord and Lexington. Doscher recently enjoyed a Daughters of the American Revolution membership and liked to ride in the group's open convertible at Memorial Day parades.

After the death of her husband in 1983, Doscher lived for 16 years on Heritage Hill. For the last three years, she lived at the New Canaan Inn, where she would practice her love of singing and attend painting classes at Waveny Senior Center. Her paintings are on exhibit at the inn.

Doscher was a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church and was involved with the St. Francis Fellowship. She was able to keep her personal and medical appointments with the help of Staying Put In New Canaan and the Red Cross.

She is survived by four children, Helen Douglass and husband Donald, Paul Doscher and wife Margo, Jean Purviance and husband David, and John Doscher and wife Madeline; and nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in New Canaan. Burial took place at Lakeview Cemetery, next to her husband. Hoyt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Martha. D. Doscher Music Endowment in care of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 111 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, CT 06840.

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