Dr. Maureen Ann Strafford of Cambridge passed away on Sept. 18, 2019, at the age of 69 at home, surrounded by her beloved family and wearing her favorite “flanney.” She valiantly fought Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer for over three and a half years.
Maureen and Alex were visitors to the Island for 40 years, and owned a seasonal home in Chilmark for 31 years. “She loved no place more,” her husband said of the Vineyard.
Maureen and Alex were visitors to the Island for 40 years and owned a seasonal home in Chilmark for 31 years. “She loved no place more,” her husband said of the Vineyard.
Maureen was born in 1949 in New York City. She received her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in 1971, and graduated from Boston University Medical School in 1976. Maureen was widely known in the medical community as the embodiment of a compassionate and gifted physician. She undertook three medical residencies: pediatrics and pediatric cardiology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, and anesthesiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She was proud to be among the rare members of the medical profession who are triple-boarded. In 1983, post-training at MGH, she married her three boards and medical talents together and became a member of the world-renowned cardiac surgery team at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. There she was the anesthesiologist on thousands of complex children’s operative and postoperative cases. In 1996, she was recruited by Tufts Medical Center in Boston to lead its pediatric anesthesia department. Maureen’s training in pediatric cardiology and anesthesiology led to her founding Tufts’ Pediatric Pain Treatment Service, the first multidisciplinary pediatric pain-management program at the hospital.
Maureen’s intellectual gifts and philanthropic sophistication caused her to be a much-sought-after member of both public and private-sector boards of trustees. She proudly served on the board of trustees of Barnard College and the admissions committee of Tufts University Medical School. Additionally, she served for more than a decade on the board of trustees of the Connecticut-based Tow Family Foundation, focusing on cutting-edge medical research funding and issues of juvenile justice; the New Jersey-based Arnold P. Gold Foundation, advancing compassion and humanism in medicine; and the Boston-based Alosa Health Foundation, promoting pharmaceutical safety.
Her circle of friends was vast, and her centrality in the lives of so many was one of her many life treasures. To say she was widely beloved does not pose the risk of overstating the degree of affection with which she was held by countless people, in and outside of medicine, and her family. Her passing creates a crater of grief for her family and friends that will not soon, if ever, heal.
She is survived by an extensive loving family — her husband of 35 tender years, Alex MacDonald; daughters Nora MacDonald of Cambridge and Emma MacDonald of Brooklyn, N.Y., and their spouses Randy Berkowitz and Irene MacDonald; granddaughters Charlotte and Louisa Maureen Berkowitz; devoted sister Nancy Hesko of Cambridge; and nieces Alison Thompson of Gilford, N.H., Katherine Hesko of Malden, and Dr. Caroline Hesko of Burlington, Vt., along with their husbands, Jesse Thompson, Andrew Spofford, and Garrett Hickey. Maureen was preceded in death by her mother and father, Irene and William Strafford, her brother William Strafford Jr., and her grandnephew, John Bradley Thompson.
Consistent with her lifelong devotion to the faith of her Celtic childhood, there will be a wake for Maureen at the DeVito Funeral Home, located at 761 Mount Auburn St. in Watertown on Friday, Sept. 27, between 1 and 4 pm and 6 and 8 pm. On Saturday morning, Sept. 28, Maureen’s funeral Mass will be conducted at the Paulist Center at 5 Park St. in Boston at 11 am.
Following the funeral service, Maureen will be buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, across the street from her longtime home in the Coolidge Hill section of West Cambridge.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Cure Starts Now (thecurestartsnow.org, Gilford, N.H. chapter) in loving memory of Maureen’s grandnephew, John Bradley Thompson.