Judith MacDonald

Obituary of Judith Baker McAvity MacDonald

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Judith Baker (McAvity) MacDonald, 91, passed away on July 4, 2023. Judy was born on May 1, 1932, in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Rachel Baker McAvity Napier and Thomas Adams McAvity, and was a stepdaughter of Robert Napier Sr. After a childhood spent in New York, Southern California, and Massachusetts, she graduated from Mamaroneck High School in Larchmont, New York.

After high school, she spent four happy years at Middlebury College in Vermont, from which she graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History. Following college, Judy lived with college friends in Boston and New York. In Boston, she worked for IBM, where she taught “Functional Wiring” and “Basic Machine Operation” to IBM salespeople.

In the late 1950s, Judy met John Alexander MacDonald Jr. at a summer house in East Orleans on Cape Cod, and they were married in Boston in 1960. They settled in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and began a 53-year life together. Judy loved living in Marblehead, with its fabulous architecture, and their lives there centered around the water. They were busy, with three children—Dougald, Ian, and Melissa—born in four years, racing their Rhodes 19 out of the Eastern Yacht Club, playing badminton at the Gut ’n Feathers Club, and playing lots of tennis and bridge. She loved having a huge social life and a house full of children and animals. She joined her husband as a member of the White Mountain Ski Runners in Intervale, New Hampshire, where they remained active lifelong members, raising their kids with skiing at Wildcat and with hiking and paddling trips each summer. Her daughter and grandsons remain active members.

In 1972, Judy and John left their beloved Marblehead for a job opportunity in Maine, moving to Yarmouth in 1973 after John bought and began operating the Yarmouth Boat Yard. They grew to love Maine and its natural beauty, making new friends and delighting in the endless options for exploring Casco Bay, where
they kept their boats. Judy and John were active members of Harraseeket Yacht Club, the Portland Country Club, and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Falmouth.

Judy was an active volunteer throughout her adult life. During her Marblehead years, she facilitated bringing outside artists into the schools as a volunteer with the “Parents Creative Arts Committee.” She also served as a Cub Scouts den mother for her two sons. She worked as a docent for what is now the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.

In Maine, she continued her volunteer work, right up through her final months. She volunteered for Portland Landmarks, a resource for homeowners looking for information about their historic houses. At the Women’s Exchange, a curated women’s cooperative, she ran the Needlework Department and was on the Selection Committee. At the United Way, she interviewed prospective volunteers for job placements. At St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Judy sang in the choir, was in the Needlework Guild and the Flower Guild, and served on the church’s vestry. She also was an active participant in the St. Mary’s Garden Club, which was one of her longtime interests, with past participation in garden clubs in Marblehead and Yarmouth.

In her 80s, she volunteered at Maine Maritime Museum, where she served as a greeter and later led historic architecture trolley tours throughout Bath. She loved the fact that she delivered her comments while riding backward on the trolley. She also was the founder and chair of the Arts Committee at her retirement community, The Highlands, in Topsham. A significant experience for Judy during her later years was her participation in the Episcopal Church’s Education for Ministry, first as a student, then as a mentor, and finally as Diocesan Coordinator.

Of all of her volunteer activity, Judy most enjoyed her work with Portland’s Ronald McDonald House. She was involved in fundraising to open the house in 1995, then became the coordinator of hundreds of house volunteers. She and John often served as Weekend Coordinators; she was co-editor of the newsletter; and she co-chaired the Cookbook Committee. In recent years, she returned with her children and grandchildren to cook a holiday meal for guests at the house.

Music was a lifelong interest of Judy’s. She played classical piano and enjoyed chorale singing with several church choirs, Oratorio Chorale (Bath/Brunswick), Masterworks Chorus of the Choral Arts Society, and The Chorale at The Highlands retirement community.

Judy had rejoined the paid workforce after her kids were launched, and after a brief stint in real estate, she worked for L.L. Bean during the entire 1980s, where she was a project leader for programming/inventory planning. She later ran a seasonal yacht charter business. Judy and John traveled extensively throughout the 1980s and 1990s on trips that were often water- or boat- related, including many bareboat charters in the Caribbean and barge trips on the canals of Europe. Wherever they traveled, Judy and John had an agreement: They would find a spot where John could “look over the edge” at a harbor and where Judy could visit an antique store. They only stopped traveling when John got Alzheimer’s disease toward the end of his life.

Judy loved games, and it was a rare day that passed without some sort of challenge: bridge, the New York Times crossword, Wordle, Spelling Bee, Scrabble, Boggle, and Rummikub. She enjoyed learning new games with new friends right up until the end.

Her family will continue the Rummikub sessions in her honor. Taking turns in groups of four are Dougald MacDonald and Christine Blackmon of Louisville, Colorado; Ian and Lori MacDonald of Yarmouth, Maine, Melissa MacDonald and Steve Rockwell of Arlington, Massachusetts; and four grandchildren: Abbey and Lydia MacDonald and Elijah and Charlie Watt.

The family would like to thank the wonderful Highlands staff for their excellent care of Judy in her final months, with a big family hug for Lisa Secone.

A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will take place later this summer. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Portland’s Ronald McDonald House.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Judith
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Direct Cremation of Maine
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Judith MacDonald

In Loving Memory

Judith MacDonald

1932 - 2023

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