A Small Woman Leaves a Large Footprint
Lunenburg - Miriam (Wight) Cheesman MacKenna, 101, died December 31, 2019 at the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton, MA after a brief illness.
Mimi was born in Springfield, MA on June 17, 1918, the daughter of the late Raymond Aaron and Katherine Hollister Wight. She attended Stoneleigh-Prospect Hill School and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1940. She received a degree in Library Science from Simmons College in 1942. Desiring to contribute to the WWII war effort, Mimi enlisted in the Naval Women's Reserve in 1943 and served in the WAVES as a communications officer.
Mimi married Radcliffe Palmer Cheesman in 1944 and the couple raised three sons while living in Fort Wayne, IN and Lunenburg. Mimi worked several years at the Ritter Library in Lunenburg before transferring in 1966 to the public schools. As the high school librarian, she inspired a generation of students with her love of books and learning and loved to surprise indifferent teens with books that would grab their interest and start them reading. Radcliffe died in 1983 and Mimi remarried in 1990, to Richard G. MacKenna. Dick and Mimi lived together in Lunenburg and Leominster until Dick's death in 2008.
Mimi was passionate about music, singing in choirs and choruses throughout her life, including a long association with the Nashoba Valley Chorale. She would often sit at the piano and lead family and friends in singing hymns, carols and other choral music. Mimi had a lively faith, and was active in Episcopal congregations at All Saints, Whalom, Christ Church, Fitchburg and St. Andrews in Ayer. Mimi loved roses, irises and peonies, and cultivated striking flower and vegetable gardens, even taking over one end of her building for a garden when she moved into an apartment complex. She stayed active in later life, travelling to England and Australia with elder hostels, cross country skiing in Vermont and participating in spiritual retreats and classes. Wherever she went, Mimi was known for being an irrepressible conversationalist who fostered friendships with people of every age and background, often resulting in her hosting visitors from far and wide.
Mimi leaves three sons, John Cheesman and his wife Diane Miner Cheesman of Beaufort, SC, Gordon Cheesman and his wife Margaret Howard Cheesman, of Winslow, ME, and Edward Cheesman and Lori Stevenson of Lunenburg; 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank the excellent staff of RiverCourt Residences in Groton for providing a caring and supportive community for Mimi during her final years.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 7 Faulkner St, Ayer, MA 01432, followed by a reception at the church. Visiting hours at the church will be available before the funeral from 9:30am – 10:30am.
A private burial will be held in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Miriam's name to the St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Outreach Program.
The Lunenburg Chapel of the Sawyer-Miller-Masciarelli Funeral Homes, 763 Mass Ave., Lunenburg, MA has been entrusted with Miriam's funeral arrangements. For further information see www.masciarellifamilyfuneralhomes.net
Walter C. Taylor and John f. Masciarelli, funeral directors View the online memorial for Miriam (Wight) Cheesman MacKenna