Nancy Macmillan died peacefully in her home on January 19th, surrounded by loved ones. She was 84 years old. She leaves her daughters, Leslie and Audrey, her brother, Bill, and 9 nieces and nephews.
She was born Anne Sheehan in Brookline, Massachusetts, the daughter of first generation Irish immigrants and the first in her family to earn a college degree. A voracious reader and sometime poet, after graduating from Emmanuel College, she began her career as copyeditor at the Atlantic Monthly, where she edited writers including Hemingway, Faulkner and ee cummings. She married Daniel Macmillan, a publisher, in 1960. The couple settled in Beacon Hill and quickly became, in the words of a longtime friend, a “force” in the neighborhood. They founded The Beacon Hill News (the progenitor of The Beacon Hill Times) in 1964 and worked with the Civic Association and Architectural Commission to plant trees on Pinckney Street, improve trash collection, tighten zoning rules to clear out shabby rooming houses, and restore brick townhouses and gardens. She was particularly proud of an initiative that restored a branch of the Boston Public Library to Beacon Hill, the West End Branch, in 1968. Ahead of her time and fiercely independent, for 30 years she owned and ran her own business, the Bankers Service Company, which published a directory of top Massachusetts corporations.
A resident of Beacon Hill for 58 years, Nancy was known for her book-lined shelves, strong opinions, love of the Red Sox and Kelly’s lobster rolls and lively sense of humor. A fall and hip fracture at age 80 left her frail the last few years of her life, though, as a friend remarked, “she still had the quick wit.” She was ever curious and learned much about the history and culture of Ghana from her home health aide, Comfort Sarkodieh, who enabled her to remain in her home on Pinckney Street and to whom she became quite close.
Services will be held on Saturday, February 24th at 11am in the Paulist Center, 5 Park Street, Boston at a later date. For information, please call 617-742-4460. In lieu of flowers, donations in Nancy’s memory may be made to St. Joseph’s Indian School, PO Box 300, 1301 N. Main Street, Chamberlain, SD 57325-0300. For online condolences and/or directions, please visit: www.bostonharborsidehome.com