Margaret Mary (Curtin) McDonald of Weston died Tuesday, October 1, 2019 of lung cancer at her home in Mashpee, in the company of her son, daughter-in-law, and eight grandchildren. She was 81.
Peggy Curtin was born in Waltham in 1938 and spent half her childhood in the Auburndale neighborhood of Newton before moving to Weston with her family in 1948. Her father worked as a chauffeur for the Mickels family in Weston, while her mother worked as a customer service representative for the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company. Both her parents were children of immigrants from Ireland.
Peggy and her younger sister Reggie used to love roaming the fields of Weston and Newton down to the Charles River in the years before Route 128 and the Massachusetts Turnpike were built. On Sundays they would go with their parents into Boston to have a big family dinner put on by their grandmother, known as Nana Kenney, who lived in Dorchester. While there they played with their 11 first cousins on that side of the family.
Peggy attended St. Bernard’s School in West Newton through eighth grade, then went to Weston High School, graduating in 1956. During high school Peggy worked as a lifeguard for the Weston Town Pool and as a cashier at Star Market in Auburndale.
Initially intending to get a quick degree and go into journalism, she attended Immaculata Junior College in Washington D.C., where the strait-laced nuns helped her achieve near straight As. After a year she transferred to Regis College in Weston, graduating in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in English. While there she played field hockey and basketball, where her height came in handy.
She became a copywriter, working first for WNAC radio in Boston and later for the Al Black Advertising Agency. She wrote copy for on-air talent, including some well-known names.
(Around 25 years later she ran into Boston Celtics broadcaster Johnny Most at a Friendly’s in Newton, reintroduced herself, and they sat and talked about the old days for 45 minutes.)
She was politically active during the 1960s, campaigning for several candidates in and around Boston.
During summers she rented cottages in Falmouth with other young single women and hung around the Cape, particularly the Hunt Club and Falmouth Heights Beach. At the Cape she first met Frank McDonald, a guidance counselor at Watertown High School, whom she married in 1968 at St. Julia’s in Weston, her home parish. The couple lived first in Waltham and later in Watertown.
She quit working in 1970 after giving birth to her son Matthew and stayed home to raise him. In the late 1970s she took part-time jobs, including as advertising director for The Village Home Center, of Waltham, where she came up with clever ad campaigns. She also worked as a tour guide in Boston.
She was an accomplished tennis player during this period, featuring a formidable left-handed forehand. She was also a good skier, spending a lot of time on the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont between the 1960s and the late 1980s. (Her favorites were Cannon Mountain, Wildcat Mountain, and Burke Mountain.) She taught C.C.D. at St. Patrick’s in Watertown during the early 1980s.
Frank and Peggy built and rented out several houses in Falmouth during the 1970s, using some of the money to rent a cottage of their own during the summer in Maushop Village in Mashpee. Starting in 1981 they spent summers in East Falmouth, before eventually building a summer home in Popponesset in Mashpee in 1986.
That same year, they moved from Watertown to Weston, where they bought the house Peggy grew up in from her mother, who moved to senior citizen housing.
During the 1990s Peggy started working part-time for A.P., a company that ran conventions in Boston, eventually working her way up to running registration. She also started proctoring licensing exams, including the bar exam and engineering. For about 20 years she served as chief proctor in Boston for the optometry exam, where she was known for her kindness to the students and staff.
Closer to home, she was a driving force behind activities of the extraordinarily close-knit Class of 1956 of Weston High School, helping organize reunions and other get-togethers.
She was known for her conversation and her sense of humor, which she maintained through her recent illness.
She enjoyed novels, mysteries, biographies, crossword puzzles, 1960s western television shows, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, fast walks on the beach, and political commentary. She loved voyaging on her family’s 17-foot Boston Whaler, especially around Martha’s Vineyard, Falmouth Harbor, Woods Hole, and Cuttyhunk.
She was also well known in certain circles for her Irish bread and her chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. She liked Irish music, particularly Paddy Reilly.
She was deeply involved in the lives of her grandchildren. For the past dozen years or so she frequently drove them to soccer and baseball games and practices, Cub Scouts, choir, and Irish step dancing. She routinely recommended old-time movies for family movie night. She also helped teach them geography, grammar, and the lives of the saints, among other things.
In recent years she regularly attended Mary Immaculate Church in Newton Upper Falls and St. Anthony’s in East Falmouth.
She was the daughter of the late James V. Curtin and Margaret Mary (Kenney) Curtin.
She was the loving wife of Francis X. McDonald, who died in 2006.
She was the devoted mother of Matthew J. McDonald, the kind mother-in-law of Kelly A.M. McDonald, and the doting grandmother of Brendan, Patrick, Erin, Nora, Seamus, Brigid, Maureen, and Fiona, all of Mashpee.
She also leaves a cherished sister, Regina Curtin Branch, of St. James Plantation, North Carolina, with whom she spent a week this past June. Though weakened by illness, she cheerfully endured an 18-hour car ride to see her beloved Reggie.
A wake is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, October 6 at George F. Doherty & Sons Funeral Home at 477 Washington Street (Route 16) in Wellesley. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, October 7 at St. Julia’s Church at 374 Boston Post Road in Weston. Burial is at Linwood Cemetery at 190 Boston Post Road By-pass (Route 20) in Weston.
In lieu of flowers, please get Peggy a Mass card. She is sure to pray for you.