Margaret Alice "Terri" FitzGerald

Jul 29th, 2022

Margaret Alice

Margaret Alice “Terri” (Donahue) FitzGerald of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully in New Bedford on February 4, 2022, at the age of 80, surrounded by loving family. She was born in 1941 in Hartford, Connecticut, to Frank Donahue, an employee of the Royal Typewriter Company, and Margaret (Gilligan) Donahue, an OB nurse at Hartford Hospital. She was the youngest of three sisters. She and her sisters Barbara and Mary grew up in a cold water flat on Hamilton Street and attended the local Catholic schools. They were “so poor we didn’t even know we were poor.”

Margaret had a flair for the fashionable and theatrical, and after choosing St. Thérèse of Lisieux as her confirmation saint, she announced that she would henceforth be known not as Margaret, but as Terri Donahue. She was a 1959 graduate of Hartford High School, where she so excelled in her coursework that her English teacher wanted to put her forward for a full scholarship to the University of Connecticut. But the young Terri had her heart set on radio and television—the latter of which she had first encountered as a child when Hamilton Street’s neighborhood children had gathered around a storefront window’s television display, in awe at the new invention. In her senior year, Terri auditioned for a job as the “weather girl” on Hartford’s television channel 18. She wowed the interviewers and they offered her the job on the spot, but then they had to rescind the offer when they found out she was still only a minor of 17 years old.

So upon her graduation, Terri took a job with Southern New England Telephone as a switchboard operator. Then she worked as a bank teller at Hartford’s Society for Savings. She was frequently moved between locations to help out, because she was the fastest and most accurate teller they had: in her five years with the Society, her daily accounts never once failed to balance. While working as a teller, she received instruction in programming punch card computers, at that time still a new field, and one open to relatively few women. The instructor told Terri that he’d been doing this for years, but she had a greater knack for programming than he did. After leaving her position as a bank teller, Terri went on to work at Travelers Insurance, and then at St. Francis Hospital, where she started out as a switchboard operator, and eventually became the secretary in charge of organizing the clerical functions for a new Intensive Care Unit.

Never losing her love for the performing arts, Terri acted on stage for many years in West Hartford’s “Mark Twain Masquers” community theater company (which she liked to mention had been the venue where Colombo’s Peter Falk got his start as an actor), and was a social fixture in the local television and radio broadcasting scene. She was a keen crossword puzzler and a voracious reader (especially of British mystery novels and occasionally of poetry, particularly that of Robert Frost), a witty conversationalist, and a lover of vacations to Cape Cod. She was passionate about her Irish heritage, and yet, in what she would often observe was perhaps a bit paradoxical, also a great Anglophile. Like many Irish-American Catholics of her generation, Terri was a great admirer of the political scene’s dashing young Kennedy brothers, and never forgot the tragedies of their assassinations.

Terri had a great spirit of adventure, and loved to travel, saving her wages for trips to places as far-flung as Bermuda and England, California and Mexico. But she especially loved to go “home” to Ireland, where she made many dear friends and treasured memories. On one of her many trips to Ireland, in 1975 Terri met Tom FitzGerald of Limerick City, then a lithographer for the publisher Elsevier, and a former senior club rugby player. Their courtship was full of a shared love of traditional Irish music and of the Irish landscape. They married on April 2, 1977, in Limerick City, and had two children, Tom and Mary. “I always dreamed of marrying an Irishman with fiery red hair,” she would observe to her children, “and I did.”

After residing in Newington, then New Britain, and then West Hartford, all in Connecticut, and then for a year in Limerick City, Terri moved to West Yarmouth in 1991, and continued to reside there until shortly before her passing. She often remarked in her later years upon how grateful she was to have been blessed to live both in Ireland and on Cape Cod: her two favorite places in the whole world.

Shortly after her move from Ireland to Cape Cod, Terri announced that she was now too old to be a “Terri,” and would henceforth be “Margaret” again. And so in her final three decades as a beloved sister, mother, and then grandmother, it was as Margaret that she was known—but more perhaps more importantly, also as “Mom” and “Grammy.” After her marriage, she had dedicated herself full time to being a kind, loving, attentive, and supportive mother to her children. She gave them everything that she had and she made them everything that they are: they will always be grateful. Like the lighthouses she loved so much, Margaret was a beacon of light and hope for her children, a guide through the darkness. There is nothing like a mother's love and Margaret doled it out in spades. There was never any doubt that she loved her children more than anything in the world. Her children could always go to her when they needed a listening ear, a word of advice or one of her enormous hugs. Her children were her world and she couldn't have done a better job of showing it.

Margaret is survived by many who loved her more than words can say and pray that she is with the saints in Heaven: by her devoted sister, Mary Eagan of South Harwich; by her two beloved children, Tom FitzGerald (who resides in Yokosuka, Japan, with his wife, Sam, and their four children: Olive, Walter, Margaret, and Philip) and Mary King (who resides in West Yarmouth with her husband, Jeff, and her daughter, Chloe Anne); by the children of her late sister Barbara Taksar (Steve, Billy, Lisa, and Jane) with whom she had so many happy memories, especially of taking them out and about when they were kids; by many cousins, grandnephews and grandnieces; and by good friends.

Funeral Mass to be celebrated on August 27, 2022 at 11am at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 98 Station Avenue, South Yarmouth, MA 02664. A prayer service will follow at 1pm, during which our beloved Margaret will be laid to rest in the columbarium at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 246 Main St, West Harwich, MA 02671.Afterward, please join us as we gather to share a meal and our memories of Margaret at 1:30pm at Jake Rooney’s Family Restaurant, 119 Brooks Road Harwich Port, MA 02646. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Margaret's favorite charity, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, at:

Guest Book

Jeremy Furbish
Saturday - Jul 30, 2022 12:00 am

I have fond memories of time spent in the home of Mrs. FitzGerald. Her love of the saints helped me to understand catholicism, and the miracle of forgiveness fjord the aton I ng sacrifice of Jesus. He love of God, and the Holy Trinity is a blessing to me. She accepted me for who I was during the many occasions I was a guest in her home. She was like a mother to me. She wasn't afraid to tell me when I screwed up either. She was kind, and a wonderful story teller. Her goats were many. Thanks for being wonderful to me Margaret. Your indelible mark is something I will remember. I will always remember your teaching me about Saint Anthony, and I still have an icon of Saint Christopher you gave me.

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