Margaret Chadwick Motavalli, 85

Margaret Chadwick Motavalli, an artist and Pearl Harbor survivor, died on Aug. 1 at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford after a battle with cancer. She was 85 and lived in Wilton after many years in Weston and Westport.

Mrs. Motavalli was born Margaret Terry Chadwick on March 25, 1929 in West Point, N.Y. Her father, Col. Maurice Place Chadwick, was then stationed as an instructor at the West Point Military Academy. Her mother, Katharine Biddle Barrette, was an ambulance driver and code breaker during World War II.

When she was 12, Mrs. Motavalli saw the Pearl Harbor attack firsthand, questioning later what the Japanese pilots must have thought when seeing a pig-tailed girl in their bomb sights. “They were flying so low I could see their faces,” she said in a 2001 interview with a journalist.

Mrs. Motavalli studied art at Cornell University and the University of Bridgeport. She was the wife of an Iranian civil engineer, Hossein Motavalli, who died in 1970. She had three sons, James (a journalist in Fairfield), John (a rare book dealer in Southbury) and Peter (a professor of soil science) at the University of Missouri).

With her husband and family, Mrs. Motavalli lived in India and Iran during the 1960s. She cultivated an early interest in art, and studied painting at the Teheran University and at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan. Her work was honored with several area exhibitions.

In later years, she taught art in the Weston Public Schools, collected Asian art, and worked in accounting at the Clark’s shoe company in Wilton and Revue International in Norwalk. She is survived by her sons, three granddaughters and her longtime companion, Lance Wilcox, of Wilton. An earlier companion, George Pantzis of Norwalk, predeceased her.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the American Cancer Society at Larson Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling the arrangements.