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Margaret MacArthur

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MARLBORO -- Margaret C. MacArthur, 78, of Marlboro, died Tuesday, May 23, 2006, at home after a short illness.

She was born in Chicago and lived throughout the United States while growing up.

At the age of 16, she attended the University of Chicago, where she met John, her husband of almost 60 years. They moved to Newfane in 1948, started a family and moved to their farm in Marlboro in 1951.

It was while living in Missouri as a child that she first started hearing the mountain ballads that were to become her lifelong passion. As she raised her family in Vermont, her interest in the old songs continued to grow, especially songs that told stories of times past.

She devoted much of the rest of her life to collecting, singing and recording these songs, as well as to writing and performing songs of her own about New England folk life.

For her work with preserving the oral traditions, she received many awards during her lifetime, including being designated a New England Living Art Treasure in 1985, being presented with a Senate tribute by Jim Jeffords in 1997 and, most recently, being invited to sing at the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center in 2005.

When Mrs. MacArthur wasn’t on the road performing, she was mass producing her phenomenal homemade bread, working in her beautiful gardens and living the simple life.

Besides her husband, John, of Marlboro, she leaves four children, Johnny of New Mexico and Dan, Gary and Megan of Marlboro; six grandchildren; and three siblings, Jim, Jack and Sally of New Mexico.

She was predeceased by a son, Patrick, in 1995.

The family will hold a memorial celebration on Sunday, June 11, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the family farm in Marlboro. Family friends are invited to bring a special bread and a memory.

Donations in Mrs. MacArthur’s name may be sent to the Vermont Folk Life Center, Margaret MacArthur Collection, P.O. Box 442, Middlebury, VT 05753, to help preserve and perpetuate her work with Vermont folk songs.
Published in Bennington Banner on June 1, 2006
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