Kathleen Patricia McNally Cushing, 82, died on Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Amherst, MA. After years of living with advanced dementia, she contracted Covid-19 and passed away shortly thereafter.
Kathleen was born on March 10, 1938, the oldest child of Charles R. McNally and Maureen Galvin McNally of Somerville, MA. She lived for over 20 years in Framingham, MA, and moved to Western Massachusetts in 2001.
She graduated from Matignon High School (1954) and Regis College (1963), where she was active in campus life and political causes, serving as president of Young Democrats and coordinating fundraising for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on campus. Her dedication to civic engagement continued her whole life. She volunteered for political campaigns at the state and national level, served as campaign manager for local races, and initiated a successful campaign in 1980 to save the Framingham Civic League from closing.
Kathleen was also passionate about the arts. She played a pivotal role in establishing the Performing Arts Center of Greater Framingham in 1981-82. Later that decade, when public schools were no longer able to offer the popular summer musical program, she co-founded Four Seasons Productions to make this possible for 5 summers with productions from Guys and Dolls to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She nurtured a generation of young artists who went on to become arts administrators, professional actors, and even a Tony-award winning producer. Her love of song ran through her whole life; even at the end, as her verbal skills failed, she never lost the ability to remember song lyrics.
She was a lifelong teacher, too. In the 1960s, she taught English in middle and high schools. Although she left the classroom, she never stopped having the attitude of a teacher, and would read the paper aloud to fellow residents at the Center for Extended Care.
Kathleen was a devoted mother, grandmother, aunt, and great aunt, encouraging her young family members to follow their dreams and passions. She was always there to cheer them on, attending countless theatrical performances, cheer squad shows, baseball games, and concerts.
She will be remembered for her love of a good party and her laughter. While her life had its share of challenges, including her bipolar depression, she always moved forward and strove to help others, including by de-stigmatizing the disease.
She is survived by her daughters Carolyn A. Cushing of Easthampton, MA, and Sheila Cushing Smith and her husband Jonathan, and grandsons Ian C. and Emmet E. Smith, of New York, NY, and her sister Elaine McNally Fitzpatrick and family of Guilford, CT, and brother Charles R. McNally Jr. and family of Swampscott, MA, and former husband, Robert D. Cushing of Framingham, MA.
Due to the public health crisis, family services were virtual. A gathering will be held to celebrate her life when it is safe to do so. In lieu of flowers, gifts in her memory are welcome to When We All Vote , P.O. Box 34673, 1400 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20005. To sign the Tribute Wall, please visit www.mitchellcofuneralhome.com.
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