Carolyn Mae (Papps) MacDonald, passed away peacefully at her home with her daughters at her side on Monday, May 18th. Supported by the wonderful team from Keene Hospice and D & S Home Care of Walpole, her 8 day transition allowed her family to share the tender process of letting go, allowing each of us a few more words, some beautiful smiles and to connect more deeply with each other in her journey.
Carolyn, a curly-topped red head born in Claremont, NH, in 1931 during the Great Depression, had a colorful childhood. Her parents, Clyde “Hink” Papps and Esther “Billy” (Hurd), lived a frugal and hard-working life. Hink, a mechanic at the woolen mill, was an avid fisherman, involving his two daughters in catching smelt in the brooks, frogs at Gile Pond and fishing frequently at the camp they all built together on Pleasant Lake in New London. Her mother cooked her girls hearty food, played card games, and involved them in helping with the house. Carolyn’s relatives were famously musical, and some performed on stage (in the Papps Family Orchestra, and a Vaudeville Act done on roller-skates). Carolyn learned to play piano at a young age, while her father and aunt accompanied on accordion. She was raised in the Claremont Baptist Church where she was baptized in a white dress with fishing weights sewn into the hem for “modesty” should it float up.
Carolyn attended Stevens High School, graduating with the class of 1949. She was a top student, involved in many clubs, singing and drama productions. After graduating, she attended Mary Hitchcock Nursing School in Hanover. During this time, she became “distracted” by the return of her classmate and friend Malcolm MacDonald from the Korean Conflict, when he returned from a mission with tuberculosis. Many visits by train to Tupper Lake, NY during his rehabilitation would eventually lead to their marriage in 1953. Malcolm later claimed her visits and their hoped-for marriage, encouraged his survival when his prognosis seemed dire.
Carolyn and Malcolm moved from the Adirondacks to Massachusetts to raise their growing family of redheads and for Malcolm to advance in his career as a Design Engineer. They made ends meet as their family grew, growing a beautiful garden, making do with what they had, repairing everything they could, and rarely wasting a thing. They became very involved in the Episcopal church, raising their children mostly in Chelmsford, Massachusetts before eventually returning to New Hampshire.
To her children, she was the mom who took snakes out of the basement, hung the laundry, fed us great food, sang songs, put worms on our hooks and lead us on bicycle tours to Cape Cod. She made our connection to New Hampshire central to our childhoods and our very favorite memories are the many summers we spent at the “cottage” with our grandparents and cousins. She had a good sense of humor, and enjoyed witty plays with words. She hiked, water-skied and played volleyball. She learned to be a photographer, setting up a darkroom in our kitchen. She taught us practical skills including sewing, baking, canning and home maintenance. It seemed there was nothing she couldn’t do.
When the children started to leave home, she studied to be a travel agent. She loved this time in her life while she arranged travels for others, but also being able to travel abroad herself. She started taking classes at a community college to simply learn, and graduated with a Liberal Arts degree and a 4.0 average. She reignited her interest in downhill skiing, joining friends on the slopes.
In retirement, after building their dream home together in Surry, NH, Carolyn became involved in the Saxton’s River Art Guild, working hard to create beautiful watercolors. She trained to be a naturalist and visited schools in Keene to teach workshops. She also returned to her drama interests and joined the Surry Players, enjoying her many roles and friendships over the years.
To her husband Malcolm, she was forever his best friend and loving companion. They were a strong couple together, enjoying the days they spent becoming skilled square dancers, traveling to historic areas and motorcycling to every state in the United States on a big Honda Goldwing!
She is survived by her sister, Patricia Hopkins (Theodore Hopkins) of Claremont and her six children: Charles MacDonald (Debbie MacDonald) of Monroeville, NJ; Catherine Barg (Randall Barg) of Ipswich, MA; Elizabeth Jaszczyszyn (George Jaszczyszyn) Holyoke, MA; Margaret “Peggy” MacDonald (Larry Lewack) of Burlington, VT; Christine Matos (Henry Matos) of Somerset, MA; and Daphne Gawne (Michael Gawne) of St. Albans, VT, Carolyn is also survived by 12 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren, and a nephew. Her husband Malcolm predeceased her in 2017.
Her family wishes to express their gratitude to the American House and their fantastic staff for providing care to our mother through this past winter, to the amazing women of D + S Home Health who carried us through day and night and to Dr. Thomas Connelly, an extraordinary hospice case manager who kept us laughing and guided us through the journey.
A small private service will be at Stringer Funeral Home, Claremont NH. We regret that in these times, we cannot include her friends. The family will plan at celebration of her life when circumstances allow. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to The Surry Players at email@example.com to support community theater.
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