Mary Ann Tynan often paused to consider a response before speaking, whether she was at home or serving on boards of institutions such as Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital and the Middlesex School in Concord.
In the face of contention “she was very calm and measured,” said her daughter Cate O’Dwyer of Kent, Conn., who added that her mother “was able to guide people and navigate pretty choppy waters, both in terms of personality and in terms of what was actually going on.”
Mrs. Tynan, who had been a partner and director of global regulatory affairs for the investment firm Wellington Management Co., offered her business acumen to many organizations, including Faulkner, whose board she had chaired.
“She brought at the same time talent and treasure to her work,” said David Trull, Faulkner’s former president and chief executive officer. He added that “she had a very thoughtful approach that could steer people to ask the right question and, probably more importantly, she could help build consensus around the right answer.”
Mrs. Tynan died of pancreatic cancer Nov. 3 in her Dedham home. She had turned 68 less than a week earlier.
In a statement on the Middlesex School website, Kathy Giles, the head of school, called Mrs. Tynan “an extraordinary person who championed schools and their people.”
Beginning in 1994, when one of her daughters was a sophomore at Middlesex, Mrs. Tynan served 19 years on the board, until May this year.
“She had a deep reservoir of understanding of Middlesex, from the uniqueness of its traditions and culture to the details of its finances,” Pete Olney, the board chairman, said in the tribute on the school’s website. “She was passionate in her support of faculty in the quest for educational excellence.”
Last year, the school planted a copper beech sapling on the grounds in honor of Mrs. Tynan, who served nearly two decades on the Middlesex board, and her husband, Patrick, who died in 2009.
After retiring in 2002 from her work in the financial field, Mrs. Tynan delved into other community efforts as well, including serving as vice chairwoman of the board of Opera House Arts in Stonington, Maine, and on the Appalachian Mountain Club board of directors.
Dr. Betsy Nabel, president of Brigham and Women’s, said in a statement on the hospital’s website that “through her words and actions, Mary Ann was a constant and positive voice for the patient and the family perspective. She was a deep, personal friend to so many people.”
For Brigham and Women’s, Mrs. Tynan also had worked on the women’s health leadership council, the care improvement council, and the compliance committee. In addition, she was on the audit and compliance committee of Partners HealthCare.
At Faulkner, Mrs. Tynan “was particularly interested in improving the quality of care and patient satisfaction,” Trull said. “She really helped push the organization to be a leader in those areas. Once she got on the board, she was a ball of fire.”
Born Mary Ann Mollek, she grew up in Mountain Lakes, N.J., and spent summers in a Deer Isle, Maine, house without electricity or modern plumbing.
While attending Smith College, she met Patrick Tynan. They married in 1967, the year she graduated from Smith.
She began working at John Hancock, where she was a vice president and corporate secretary. In 1976, she moved to Wellington Management, where she became a partner in 1988 and served as director of regulatory affairs.
According to colleagues, she was one of the first women to make partner, and she helped Wellington start many new offices, dealing with technical and regulatory issues around the globe. She worked at Wellington for 26 years before retiring in 2002.
“She was really committed to the regulatory side of the business, toward ethics and whether the work that Wellington was doing was legal and was ethical,” her daughter Cate said.
Mrs. Tynan, she added, “really firmly believed in transparency and in thinking critically in your actions.”
Often taking on less glamorous tasks, such as reviewing insurance policies, Mrs. Tynan kept attending board meetings after her cancer diagnosis about a year ago, sometimes bringing along a chemotherapy pump.
At home, she rarely discussed work, preferring to keep the stress of business life to herself, and “she had this amazing ability to be quite firm but also quite compassionate,” said her daughter, Emily McDaniel of Asheville, N.C.
While traveling extensively for work, Mrs. Tynan kept an eye out for quirky stocking stuffers and unique condiments.
She liked big, metal jewelry, her daughters recalled, and she never went anywhere without her Kindle.
After Mrs. Tynan died, her two daughters went through boxes tucked away in the Dedham house and found something that made them smile: a collection of handmade balsam fir pillows, an addition to the stocking stuffers their mother purchased each year during her world travels.
“They smell like her,” Emily said.
A service has been held for Mrs. Tynan, who in addition to her two daughters leaves three grandchildren.
“She was warm, funny, and engaged,” Cate said. “She had a real knack for remembering names and faces and she really looked you in the eye and engaged with you.”
Mrs. Tynan was fond of red, the color of her signature woolen mittens and the poppies she often kept on her desk.
“Red is a color of strength and warmth. It is a color of love,” said Deborah Allinson, a longtime friend and former Wellington colleague. “Strength, warmth, love — that is Mary Ann.”
Emma Stickgold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.