Lilian Streeter Lucas Chance, 85, an accomplished life

Lilian Chance
Lilian Chance
Posted: February 19, 2013

A woman of grace and intellect who savored life by participating fully in it, Lilian Streeter Lucas Chance of Malvern once ran a biophysical research facility as well as a horse farm, all while managing 100 rental properties and raising eight children and four stepchildren.

In her spare time, she gardened, cooked, and served for a time as president of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Chance died Wednesday, Feb. 13, of complications from pneumonia. She was 85.

"She was so accomplished in her life," said Katy Drinkwater, 27, Ms. Chance's granddaughter, also from Malvern. "She was a very distinguished person."

Born in Morristown, N.J., in 1927, Ms. Chance - known affectionately to friends and family as "Ma" - was the daughter of a banker and the first colonel in the U.S. Women Marines.

She was educated at the Chapin School in New York City, then attended Bryn Mawr College for about two years before leaving to marry her first husband, Gerald Brinton Lucas Jr., an English teacher at the Phelps School in Malvern.

The couple lived on Troutbeck Farm in Malvern, where they raised four children, along with thoroughbred race horses.

After Mr. Lucas drowned while swimming off Long Island, Ms. Chance changed her life once again.

She returned to Bryn Mawr and graduated magna cum laude in history.

Soon after, she met and married her second husband, Britton Chance, a biophysicist at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Chance, an inventor who advanced the fields of medical diagnosis as well as polygraph testing, was also a gold medalist on the U.S. sailing team at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. He died in 2010.

Ms. Chance ran her husband's lab at Penn, known as the Eldridge Johnson Foundation Laboratory.

"She had a photographic memory, a big brain," Drinkwater said. Ms. Chance wrote papers, as well as proposals for grants, and was in charge of the lab employees, Drinkwater added.

Ms. Chance helped raise Dr. Chance's four children, and the couple had another four children together - "kind of an endless family," according to Drinkwater.

The couple owned property in West Philadelphia, and Ms. Chance converted old Victorians into 100 student apartments.

She also ran the Colonial Dames group from 1985 to 1991, a society for people who can trace their lineage to colonial times.

An avid gardener and cook who shared her love and knowledge of food with her family, Ms. Chance was "very down-to-earth and so easy to be around," Drinkwater said.

She added: "She was strong, so very strong, with wonderfully bright blue eyes."

Along with her children, Ms. Chance is survived by 16 grandchildren, not including step-grandchildren.

A service for Ms. Chance will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Malvern. A reception at the church will follow.


Contact Alfred Lubrano

at 215-854-4969 or alubrano@phillynews.com .

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