Anita McGarry (Bell)
Anita Bell McGarry, 90, beloved wife of the late Francis P. McGarry, died peacefully on September 7, 2018 with family by her bedside. She was born December 5, 1927 in Passaic, NJ, the daughter of Henry J. and Julia E. (Mihalec) Bell.
Anita grew up in West Orange, NJ, graduating from West Orange High School in 1945. An accomplished pianist, her days were filled with music, friends, school plays, and fashion design. Her exceptional sewing and design skills gained her recognition as early as high school where she received Senior Honors in Clothing Class and was awarded a full scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Technology and Design in New York City. Her talent was further recognized by securing, prior to graduation, a position as designer at the Nite Craft Corporation in Orange, NJ. She left their employ in 1952 when she married her beloved Frank P. McGarry on June 14, 1952 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in West Orange, NJ and went on to raise three daughters and two sons. Although she left professional employment, she made sure the house was filled with music, her own and that of her children. Her fashion, stitching, and fabric talents were put to use for and with her children in the homes she and Frank created for the family. After her children were all young adults, Anita returned professionally to her love of fabric, fashion, and design by taking employment in Bangor’s finer women’s clothing establishments, and selling and demonstrating sewing machines at a local fabric shop.
During the years of raising her family, Anita demonstrated her “good sport,” taste for adventure, and willingness to learn new things on behalf of herself and her family by moving the family to new homes in 4 different states (NJ, DE, CT, and ME) as her husband’s career progressed. She learned to drive and ski, and took up camping – with 5 children in tow. The skiing and camping were ways to keep the family adventuring together, outdoors, winter and summer. The camping trips, to her delight, included “square/round dance weekends” during which dancers gathered at a campground that included a large barn for dancing, allowing Anita and Frank to dance late into the evening. Anita sang with local Sweet Adelines barbershop harmony choral groups. Her 50-year participation was recognized in a ceremony at the Region 1 Competition held in Springfield, MA in 2007. In addition to the joy of singing, Sweet Adelines also provided her a venue for her textile talents by designing, fitting, and making their performance costumes and helped fulfill her desire to support the wider community through their fundraising activities for local charitable organizations. She furthered her contributions to her civic and religious community through participation in Catholic Women’s Councils.
Anita remained quietly active until Alzheimer’s diminished her capacity to engage with the larger world. But to the end, even when not sure who was visiting her, she always welcomed smiles and kisses, and returned them in kind.
Anita is predeceased by her parents, Henry J. and Julia (Mihalec) Bell; her brother Henry J. Bell Jr; and her husband Francis P. McGarry to whom she was married for 60 years until his death April 20, 2013. She is survived by her five children: Paul F. McGarry of Ithaca, NY; Patricia (McGarry) Clark and husband Robert of Bangor, ME; grandchildren Elizabeth Clark Wilcox and husband Justin of Auburn, ME; and Sarah Clark Branam and husband Clarence and great-grandchildren Oliver, Logan, and Quinn of Abu Dhabi; Nancy B. McGarry of Fort Pierce, FL; Louise P. McGarry of Orono, ME; and Kenneth R. McGarry and wife Linda of Lawrenceville, GA.
Relatives and friends are invited to call 5-7 pm Tuesday at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center St. Bangor.
Anita, a member of St. John’s Catholic Church since 1971 will be remembered in a Funeral Mass 11 am Wednesday September 12, 2018 at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, St. John’s Catholic Church, 207 York St. Bangor, followed by a reception in the parish hall. The Rite of Committal will be held at 1:30 pm at Mt. Pleasant Catholic Cemetery, Ohio St. Bangor.
Those wishing to remember her in a special way may make donations to St. John’s Organ Society, which is dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of the historic Hook Organ.
St. John’s Organ Society, 207 York St., Bangor, ME 04401.
Condolences to the family may be expressed at BrookingsSmith.com.