Therese McHugh

Obituary of Therese Mary McHugh

Therese "Terry" Mary (Kavanaugh) McHugh, age 86, devoted and loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother peacefully passed away on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 surrounded by family at her home in Nashoba Park in Ayer. She was a former resident of Bedford and Boxborough. Terry was born and raised in the Reading and Philadelphia, PA area during the Great Depression, to the late Mary McLaughlin and William Kavanaugh. She had great affection for the city of Philadelphia, where she especially loved attending the all-girls Catholic Nazareth Academy High School in Northeast Philly (Class of 1951). She married her high school sweetheart, Joseph William McHugh, a Korean War veteran. After starting their married life in the U.S. Army in Missouri and Texas during the war, they returned to Levittown, PA, beginning a family of seven children. Terry and her husband moved the family to the Knoxville, TN area in 1960, where they were active in their parishes, including Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, where some of their children attended elementary school in Alcoa, and Pope John XXIII Church on the campus of UT-Knoxville. During the 1960’s, Terry and her husband joined the historic Civil Rights Movement, working for the desegregation of public schools and to improve opportunities for the poor in their community, as well as the “End the Vietnam War” movement. Terry and her husband were leaders in the campaigns that elected a black City Commissioner and a black School Committeeman in Alcoa, TN in 1968, who were reported to be the first elected persons of color elected in a white majority town in the New South. Terry's family remembers her life as an exemplary Christian who studied the Bible and lived a life of devotion to help the hungry and less fortunate. As a Community Action Center volunteer, she led efforts to provide assistance to those in poverty in East TN with food, clothing, heat and necessities. Her children remember one family calling Terry to let her know they had a telephone for the first time in their lives, due to her support. Terry credited her parents with instilling in her a duty to offer help to those less fortunate than herself. Terry led a busy life, raising seven children, two dogs, and countless cats. As soon as her youngest child entered kindergarten, she commenced college at UT-Knoxville in 1970, and continuing upon moving to Massachusetts, worked her way through college simultaneously with her older children on her way to achieving a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Boston State College (now UMass-Boston). Along the way, she worked, sometimes as a volunteer, at Fernald Development Center, the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial VA Hospital in Bedford, and a state agency where she worked directly with released prisoners to find careers and jobs in the Boston area, as well as resettling Southeast Asian refugees after the Vietnam War. Terry's proudest legacy, second only to her cats, is her family. She leaves behind her children, Joseph McHugh Jr. and his wife Maureen Coleman McHugh, Maureen McHugh-Bigley and her husband Michael Bigley, Kathy McHugh Kendrick and her husband William Kendrick, Thomas McHugh and his wife Yuri-Anne Enomoto McHugh, Michael McHugh and his wife Trish McHugh, William McHugh and his wife Sharon Jansen McHugh, and Rosanne McHugh Fluet. Her 12 grandchildren are Jessica Bigley, Lauren McHugh, Dr. Lindsay Kendrick Anderson, Travis Kendrick, Ashley McHugh King, Carolyn Therese McHugh, Jacquelyn McHugh Prescott, Michael McHugh Jr., Fiona McHugh, Seretha McHugh, Quinn Fluet and Arden Fluet. Her six great-grandchildren are Oliver Akers, John King Jr., Liam Anderson, Leo King, Ana King and Ava Anderson. Due to COVID-19, the funeral was private. Burial was in Shawsheen Cemetery, Bedford. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Hope Center c/o New Hope Community Church, PO Box 456, Ayer MA, 01432.
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