Unity-Esther Lucy McDonough, age 91, died at Sullivan County Healthcare on February 25 after a long period of declining health. Esther lived her entire life in Newport until her health made SCHC her residence.
Born April 14, 1928 to parents Fred and Lucy (Osgood Johnson) McDonough, Esther grew up as the seventh generation on what is now known as Beaver Pond Farm. She was predeceased by siblings Mary McDonough and Fred McDonough and life partner Emile Martineau of Berlin and then Newport where they shared decades together at the home she built on the family farm now owned by the next generation in the Osgood-Johnson-McDonough legacy. She is survived by her brother and his wife, John and Gloria McDonough of Newport, her sister-in-law Norma McDonough of Newport, nieces Kismet McDonough (Chan) and her husband Michael Chan of Londonderry, Rebecca “Becky” (McDonough) Nelson and her husband Bennie of Newport, Elaine Patterson of Newport, nephew Fred “Mac” McDonough of Goshen and his wife Nancy and many great-nieces and nephews.
Esther grew up in Newport, first attending a one-room schoolhouse in Kelleyville and then on to Towle High School where she graduated in 1946. She attended Becker Junior College in Worcester, MA and followed school with a lifelong career in the field of law as an office clerk for Leahy and Denault Law Practices in Claremont and then as Court Stenographer in the NH Superior Court System from which she retired in the 1980s. She began her love of fine cars, restaurants and material possessions early in her working career with her first car being a 1948 Chevy convertible followed by decades of topnotch American made cars, Buick and Cadillac her favorites.
Esther loved to travel worldwide, and never let obstacles stop her from her plans. Hurricanes and blizzards were not a deterrent to the feisty, opinionated and stubborn lady and she would hop in the car and travel to Manchester if planned no matter how fierce the storm, angry if stores closed because of foul weather. She was adored by her family, and she loved lavishing gifts and trips on her loved ones. Every holiday was a time for over-the-top decoration and celebration both inside and outside her home with Christmas the highlight of extravagant arrays of lights, trees and decorations outside and all manner of decorations inside her home along with a closet stocked and ready for gift wrapping. All shrubbery around her home was decorated with Easter eggs in the spring and massive inside displays at St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Easter. Esther truly enjoyed festivities. She loved gardening and had beautiful annual and perennial flower gardens surrounding her home. She often helped out at the farm in all seasons, working the overnight shift at the sugarhouse in spring, picking berries or slinging hay bales in the summer or hauling and stacking wood in the fall. Shopping was always her favorite pastime, as her wardrobe and appearance were important to her to her dying day. Esther enjoyed shopping more than anything else she did and even accomplished a shopping trip just days before her passing. She was known to regularly spend all day at Manchester malls and stores after a visit to her hairdresser in the city.
An animal lover of all creatures wild and domesticated, her home was never without a cat, her bird feeders were never empty, a pair of binoculars was always at the window and her bookshelves were stocked with books for animal and bird identification. She was known to have chased bears that tried to get to the birdfeeders off the premises barking like a yappy dog and shaking a broom as she was fearless in the face of any challenge. She was a giving soul, frequently sending funds to missions and animal protection organizations, visiting elder shut-ins and family friends at their homes and in nursing homes as they aged and always remembering others with postcards, cards and letters. Many appreciated the kind words and remembrances she would send to them. Esther donated her body to the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in a selfless act for medical research and training.
An avid reader, her home library was extensive (she only read non-fiction) and she read newspapers, periodicals and other written works relentlessly until she lost her sight in the last few months. She was a very patriotic, politically active and supportive Republican and rubbed elbows with many Republican governors and presidents, making her political opinions known to her family just days before her passing. She was proficient in handling guns and was very proud of her NRA pistol shooting certification which she displayed even in her room at the nursing home. In her latter years at SCHC, if she wasn’t at the hairdresser or a game of Bingo, she would be found reading, watching Fox News or Animal Planet or making her opinions known to whomever was available to listen. The family is very appreciative of the excellent care and attentive staff at Sullivan County Healthcare who made her final years comfortable.
A self-made woman, Esther enjoyed a rich, full life and will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by her family and friends. She will be remembered during a Mass of Remembrance to be held at 4 p.m. May 23, 2020 at St. Patrick’s Church, Newport, NH for any that would like to attend. A family remembrance gathering will be held at Beaver Pond Farm in Newport at a future date. Condolences can be posted at Newton-Bartlett Funeral Home, Newport, NH or sent to family directly. Remembrance donations should be sent to the charity of your choice.
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