Madine (Potter) Ballentine went to be with her Lord and Savior on Wednesday, April 15. Born January 29, 1932, in South Pomfret, Vermont, Madine lived a full life and brought great joy wherever she went. Though she was blind since childhood, she saw more than most sighted people as she navigated the world with her fingers, ears, and other senses. Her enthusiasm for life and genuine love and care for others naturally drew people to her, and she is greatly missed by many who were blessed to be the friends who were her chosen family.
Predeceased by her parents Allan and Ethel (Luce) Potter and her husband Allen Ballentine, Madine is survived by her sister Doris Roberts and niece and nephew June Ward and Anthony Roberts, as well as great nieces and nephews. She is also survived by many friends/family, several of whom she met during her post-graduate studies at Perkins School for the Blind.
Attending Perkins after completing public high school in a small town was a huge change for Madine. While she struggled at times to adjust, she would later describe her two years there as some of the best in her life, and she was a dedicated alumna and volunteer for decades, tutoring children and attending Alumni Weekend and other events faithfully every year until her health declined two years ago. In 1952, she received a certificate for Ediphone Achievement and went on to work as a stenographer and cashier in Vermont. She returned to Massachusetts when she married her husband Allen, whom she met through a tape club, where they corresponded by audio cassette recording. Madine was an avid member of the tape club and communicated with dozens of people across the nation and even internationally. The brailler she first discovered and took to while at Perkins continued to serve her throughout her life, allowing her to take notes on the tapes she received, record contact information, and create shopping lists, among many other things. She taught braille for many years because she recognized the freedom and empowerment it brought.
Madine was curious and a lifelong learner. She loved to travel and play anagrams, and she always had time for those she loved. Her door and her heart were open to everyone, and she would give anything she had to those in need. Always full of gratitude, she was legendary for baking 100 dozen chocolate chip cookies, which she distributed every Christmas to friends and those who helped her—taxi cab drivers, pharmacists, hairdresser, and so many more. Everyone eagerly awaited these delicious treats, and reminders began in October. She was equally known for remembering birthdays and anniversaries and sent dozens of cards and gifts to celebrate these happy occasions. Her Christmas card list was extensive, and we all looked forward to her annual newsletter.
A great storyteller, Madine loved to hear and tell stories, and she would poke fun at herself as much as she teased others—always with love and kindness. She was very intelligent and had an exceptional memory; she knew how many steps it took to get to the door of each place she frequented, could tell drivers when they missed their turn, and kept careful track of the interests and concerns of her loved ones. Madine had a special heart for those with disabilities and took a specific interest in deaf blind people. She spent many happy hours tutoring her deaf blind friends and celebrating their special days and achievements.
Her love of children was also well known. A nanny and daycare provider for years, she put bells on the children’s feet and surprised many a child when she asked why they were climbing on the couch; she always knew where they were and what they were doing. Children and adults alike often forgot she was blind because of how well she navigated her world.
Beyond her uncanny hearing, Madine had a unique ability to distill flavors and was a successful taste technician for a few years. Known for her love of ice cream, Madine had quite a sweet tooth and loved to share treats with others. She always said, “Make sure you save room for dessert!”
Madine also loved to try new things, and she was always ready for an adventure. In fact, she made doing even the most mundane tasks fun and adventurous with her love of life and grateful, appreciative attitude. She kept track of the world around her, from news to sports. In addition, she was an avid reader, enjoyed music (especially concerts at Perkins), and oh, how she loved her radios! She had several. They were only outnumbered by the batteries she had on hand to keep them going.
And now we will keep her memory going. Please celebrate Madine by loving others and caring for them as she always did. She lived her faith, and we hope all who knew her will love the Lord as she did. Special thanks to the staff at Meadow Green Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for the excellent care they gave to Madine and to Perkins School for the Blind, who opened the world to her. A portrait commissioned by friends is hung in her honor in the Admission Office and will be dedicated at a later time. A memorial service will also be planned after the pandemic ends and restrictions are lifted. Please check Macdonald, Rockwell & Macdonald Funeral Services for details.
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