Barbara McMahon, 91, of Belfast, passed away surrounded by her children on Tuesday, February 21, 2023.
Bunny was born in New York City and was one of four children. She spent most of her childhood in Connecticut, until her family moved to Ithaca, where she attended Cornell University, graduating in 1954. She married her college sweetheart Paul McMahon shortly after they graduated from Cornell. They then drove across the country to work at a hotel in Glacier National Park, before returning to upstate New York, where they started their family. Her husband’s work took them all over the country. She and Paul raised their five children in upstate New York, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Connecticut, where they opened a cheese and natural foods store called The Grist Mill. As soon as the kids were grown, Bunny and Paul moved to Maine.
Bunny loved learning and creating. Over the years she rode horses, dead reckoned on sailboats, painted in oils, made baskets, sewed dresses, grew flowers and vegetables, experimented with new recipes, and was a voracious reader and crossword puzzle solver. Her mother, Ethel Emerson was a singer and passed her love of music on to Bunny, who was always singing and dancing. Bunny sang with many choral groups, toured with the Capella Cantorum in Europe, and later joined the Penobscot Bay Singers in Belfast. She loved classical, jazz, folk and even the rock and roll of the 1970s and was a regular at ukelele jam sessions. Her home was where her children and their friends came to listen to music and have lively discussions about the issues of the day. Her open-mindedness, feistiness, resistance to convention for convention’s sake, and quick wit earned her the reputation of coolest mom in town.
She was generous with her time and loved being involved in her community. She worked and volunteered in preschools, elementary schools, libraries, and for the League of Women Voters. She joined a bowling league and bridge clubs, and regularly gathered with friends for breakfast. She loved watching sports – especially football, tennis, and her children’s soccer games, and could out cheer anyone in the living room, stands or local sports bar. She loved watching her daughters and their daughters play violin and would come to every performance and sit in the front row. She had a soft spot for any living thing, especially dogs, and raised many over the years.
Bunny appreciated the value of play, taught her kids lots of games, and insisted that they play outside pretty much all of the time. She gave her children happy and uncluttered childhoods, and raised them without judgment, making a point of letting them become who they wanted to become.
She loved the forests and coast of Maine and in her last years, was always exclaiming with amazement about the beauty of trees. She also loved sailing and, together with Paul, explored the waters of Maine, Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, and the Bahamas.
Bunny leaves behind her three sons – Barney, Greg and Scott, and her daughter, Janet. She lost her daughter Judy several years ago. She also leaves ten grandchildren, Peter, Sarah, Anna, Josie, Matthew, Maya, Emma, Sophie, Julia and Olivia, her brother Jonathan, and was a “greatgrandbunny” to three grandchildren, Evelyn, Everett and Drew. All of us will remember her full-bodied arm-waving goodbyes and her smiling face at the end of each and every visit.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Waldoboro Food Pantry or Belfast Soup Kitchen.
Arrangements are entrusted to Hall Funeral Home, 949 Main Street, Waldoboro, Maine.