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Ann McCarthy

1944 - 2019
Ann (Arseneault) McCarthy, 74

WORCESTER - Ann (Arseneault) McCarthy was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on July 22, 1944 to Dr. James Raymond Arseneault and Mrs. Margaret Mildred Arseneault. Her older brother James Raymond "Jimmy" Arseneault, Jr. picked her first name.

As a little girl, Ann enjoyed creating stories on the walk to and from St. Peter Central Catholic Elementary School. In a favorite one, she saved people while riding a magic flying horse. But the biggest hero in Ann's life was her brother Jimmy, who rose to Lieutenant (JG) in the United States Navy and flew from the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge (CVS 33) in the South China Sea.

On May 8, 1961, Jimmy was killed at age 24 in a plane crash while supporting a combat mission taking place in Laos. The loss devastated 16-year-old Ann and the entire Arseneault family. For the rest of Ann's life, she kept Jimmy's memory alive through stories and photographs prominently displayed in her home. She also played a role in Jimmy finally being awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnam Campaign Medal in 2011; and being added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF)'s "In Memory Honor Roll" in 2012.

Ann graduated from Worcester's Notre Dame Academy in 1962, and earned a B.A. in Education (with a focus on Special Education) from Anna Maria College in 1966. To save money for college tuition, Ann worked as an "office girl" at St. Paul's Cathedral Rectory and as a lifeguard at Coes Pond. Both of these jobs changed the course of her life. One day, a student from the College of the Holy Cross rang the rectory's doorbell. When Ann answered the door, that student -- named Albert "Al" McCarthy -- took one look at her and thought, This is the woman I'm going to marry. Not long after, Ann attended a birthday party for a fellow Coes Pond lifeguard and Al happened to be there, celebrating their mutual friend. Ann and Al started dating and eventually married, just as Al had predicted. Their love story lasted 53 years. Together, they raised two daughters: Erin (McCarthy) Shields of Osterville; and Caitlin McCarthy of Worcester.

In a career spanning almost three decades, Ann served as a Special Education teacher in Worcester, working at David Hale Fanning Trade School in the 1970s before transferring to Worcester Vocational Technical High School when "Girls Trade" and "Boys Trade" merged. Ann made a lasting impact on her students, many of whom reached out to her years after graduation.

Additionally, Ann served as a union officer of the Worcester Vocational Teachers Association and delegate in the Educational Association of Worcester (EAW). She devoted untold hours to meetings, committees, and the contract negotiation team. In 1987, Ann put herself on the front line during the Worcester vocational education teacher strike and risked arrest as a union officer, all because she believed that a teacher's working conditions are a child's learning conditions.

A self-professed book and news junkie, Ann possessed an incredible memory for detail. Her family often teased that she had missed her calling as a detective. She also had an amazing "Wistah" accent, inspiring actress Juliet Landau to study and use it during a live staged reading of select scenes from Wonder Drug (written by Ann's daughter Caitlin).

Quick to smile, laugh, and empathize with others, Ann easily bonded with people. A video store clerk once wrote that she was "the nicest lady" in her customer profile. That clerk was right.

Ann's greatest passion was reserved for her family. In addition to her husband Al, daughters Erin and Caitlin, son-in-law Scott Shields, and "fur baby" Oscar, Ann deeply cherished her two grandsons Liam Shields and Ronan Shields. Ann was the heart of her family, and they feel so lucky for every moment spent with her.

On June 16, Ann made her journey peacefully with family by her side after bravely facing gallbladder cancer. Per Ann's request, there will be no calling hours and burial will be private for her family. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Worcester Animal Rescue League (WARL).

Rest in peace, dearest Ann.
Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette from June 20 to June 21, 2019
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