Elizabeth Montignani Guest, for many years a summer resident of East Chop and longtime prominent figure in alumni affairs for Amherst and Mount Holyoke Colleges, died peacefully on Oct. 16. Nicknamed in college Mahat, a humorous variation on her maiden name Montignani at a time when Mahatma Ghandi was much in the news, the nickname stuck for a lifetime. She was 95.

As the wife of Amherst College’s alumni secretary, J. Alfred Guest, who served in that position from 1946 to 1971 and in other service to the college until his death in 1997, Mahat entertained and was a friend to thousands of Amherst undergraduates and alumni for more than 50 years. In 1999, the Alumni Council of Amherst College honored her with its Distinguished Service Award.

Mahat served as class president and on several alumnae committees for Mount Holyoke College and was awarded their alumnae medal of honor in 1984. In its citation, the college recognized her as “a gracious presence for Mount Holyoke,” and noted that her home was “legendary for its warmth and hospitality,” concluding: “We have all benefited greatly from your warm and generous spirit, your enthusiasm and sound judgment.”

An avid skier, bicyclist and world traveler, Mahat wrote articles on all three subjects for The New York Times. She bicycled well into her 80s. With her husband, she helped lead many foreign trips sponsored by the Amherst College alumni association.

Mahat had a special interest in the life and poems of Emily Dickinson, and was a guide for many years at the Emily Dickinson homestead in Amherst. Until the day she died, she could quote scores of Emily Dickinson poems from memory and recite the perfect poem to family and friends when the occasion called for it.

She was a voracious reader and served for many years on the Friends of Frost Library at Amherst College. In her 90s, she was still taking English literature courses offered by a retired professor at Applewood, the senior community in South Amherst which her husband helped found and where she lived since 1991.

At Applewood, Mahat served on several committees, led a book discussion group, and at one time chaired the women speakers bureau, arranging for authors, scholars, civic activists and others to speak at the weekly Saturday morning gatherings.

She supported progressive causes locally and nationally, contributing to many charitable organizations and writing often to political leaders urging them to take actions she believed were important.

A Golden Eaglet in the Girl Scouts as a youth, Mahat was Girl Scout commissioner in Amherst for several years in the mid-1950s. She delighted in telling the story of bike rides when the eager scouts would take off peddling fast and furious and come back exhausted while she bicycled at a sensible, even pace and felt fine at the end.

Mahat was born on June 11, 1912, in Rochester, N.Y., where she spent her early years. She later lived in Mount Vernon, N.Y., for seven years before her family moved back to Rochester shortly after she graduated from high school. She attended Mount Holyoke College, where she majored in English, sparking a lifelong interest in literature, and graduated in 1934. She lived with her husband and three young children in Bernardsville, N.J., before moving to Amherst in 1946. For over 60 years, until her death, she and her family spent part of their summers on East Chop, and it is still a gathering place for three generations of her family.

Mahat is survived by her son, James Guest, of New York city, and her daughter, Anne Hazelton, of Windsor, Conn. Another daughter, Alison Soden, died in 1989. She had eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst or Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley.