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Angela Winthrop

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Angela Forbes Winthrop, the oldest resident of Hamilton, died peacefully on August 5th at Groton House in that town, her home since 1933. She was the widow of Frederic Winthrop, who died in 1979. For over 75 years, Mrs. Winthrop presided over Groton House Farm, her countless dogs, horses, and other animals, an endless parade of international guests, as well as her own seven children. Throughout her life Mrs. Winthrops chief concern was the well being of her family and friends. Mrs. Winthrop was born in Paris, France in 1912, the fourth of eleven children of James Grant Forbes and Margaret Winthrop Forbes. Originally from Boston, her parents had settled in France where Mr. Forbes was an international banker. With the German Army advancing on Paris at the outset of the WWI, the family left for England where Mrs. Winthrop grew up and was schooled. In 1929 she made her first visit to the US, staying with her godmother Mrs. Charles Rice at Turner Hill in Ipswich. It was there that she met her future husband, a distant cousin. Mrs. Winthrop was the great-granddaughter of Robert C. Winthrop, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives who laid the cornerstone of the Washington Monument. Both she and her husband were direct descendants of John Winthrop, leader of the Great Puritan Migration and the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After her marriage in 1933, Mrs. Winthrop made annual visits to her parents and brothers and sisters, who were then living abroad. On one such trip in 1939, to the coast of Brittany where her parents had a summer house, Mrs. Winthrop learned that the Nazis had invaded Poland and thus both France and England were on the brink of war with Germany. A quick departure was clearly advisable but escape to England was blocked. Accompanied by her husband and her three eldest children with their Scottish nanny, Mrs. Winthrop fled south to Bordeaux where they were among the last to sail on an American flagged vessel. During the later years of WWII, Mrs. Winthrop opened her Hamilton home to refugee children from Britain and the Netherlands. She also made Groton House a welcome retreat for numerous officers of the Royal Navy whose ships were refitting in Boston. Shortly after the end of the war in Europe, and while her husband, a colonel in the US Army, was still in the Pacific Theatre, Mrs. Winthrop arranged a posting with The Save the Children Federation to assess the needs of school children in the war zone. In uniform, with a US Army jeep and driver arranged by General George Patton, a friend and neighbor from Hamilton, she travelled throughout France. In the course of this mission she was able to reconnect with two of her younger sisters who had been active with the French Resistance. In December of 1945, Mrs. Winthrop attended the funeral of General Patton at the American military cemetery at Hamm in Luxembourg. Mrs. Winthrop held a great interest in civic and international issues. In the Cold War years, she was actively involved with the Word Federalist Organization and was a staunch supporter of the United Nations. Mrs. Winthrop was chairman of the board of The Boston Center for Adult Education and for many years served on the board of The Animal Rescue League of Boston. She was especially loyal to the English Speaking Union in Boston. In the 1930s, Mrs. Winthrop, with her sister-in-law Theodora Ayer Winthrop, established a womens reproductive health clinic in rural South Carolina. An avid horsewoman, Mrs. Winthrop took pleasure in helping young people share that passion by promoting the Myopia Hunt in Hamilton, horse shows around Massachusetts, and the Pony Club in Essex County. She also supported the competitive careers of Olympic level riders. Mrs. Winthrop was predeceased by her eldest son Adam in 1982. She is survived by her other children: Iris W. Freeman of Aiken, SC, Ann Getchell of Hamilton, Frederic Winthrop of Ipswich, Robert Winthrop of Athens, GA, Grant Forbes Winthrop of New York, and Jonathan Winthrop of Boston, as well as 16 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. Even into the last years of her life, Mrs. Winthrop remained intrigued by world affairs. She unfailingly read three daily newspapers, and ended her day with the eleven oclock television news. Intelligent, aware and well informed, she considered herself a moderate Republican. She was proud to say that the only times she voted Democratic were for her nephew U.S. Senator John Kerry. Services will be private. Contributions in her memory may be made to The Trustees of Reservations, in support of the Center for Agriculture and the Environment at Appleton Farms, 219 County Road, Ipswich, MA 01938, or the Hospice of the North Shore, 78 Liberty Street, Danvers, MA 01923.

Published in The Hamilton Chronicle from Aug. 10 to Aug. 17, 2011
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