Cover photo for Ann E. (Markham) O'Connor's Obituary
Ann E. (Markham) O'Connor Profile Photo
1934 Ann 2022

Ann E. (Markham) O'Connor

March 27, 1934 — September 12, 2022

There will be a mass of Catholic burial at St. Bernard’s Parish at St. Camillus Church at 333 Mechanic Street in Fitchburg, MA on Friday, September 16 at 11:00 AM.

On Monday, September 12, 2022, Ann Ellen Markham O’Connor passed away at the age of 88.

Ann was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts in 1934 to Stephen and Anne (Peterson) Markham. She was the youngest of four. She maintained that being the baby girl with three older brothers prepared her well for life. She was feisty and scrappy with a broad streak of courage.

As a young woman, Ann wanted to travel the world. Her fear of flying, however, presented a major impediment. Determined to overcome that fear, Ann chose to become a stewardess with American Airlines. The airline profile called for stewardesses to be “the all-American girl. Your best friend’s kid’s sister.” With strict height, weight, and posture requirements, Ann flew the not always friendly skies wearing 3 inch heels for several years until becoming engaged to John (Jack) O’Connor, whom she would marry in 1959. To the delight of her three children (Anne, John, and Peg), Ann’s photo appeared in the World Book Encyclopedia for several editions under the entry for “airlines” before being changed because passengers no longer boarded outside the plane from the tarmac.

Ann was a stay-at-home mom until she returned to the workforce in the late 1970s. She worked as a secretary at a nursing home before becoming the law librarian at the North Worcester County Courthouse. She was well-suited to librarian work, which at the time was more akin to detective work, tracing citations and following the trail of precedent-making decisions. She often had a coating of dust from pulling out the hefty tomes. After helping to establish a trust to ensure the continued operation of the library, Ann retired just as computers made their appearance. For several years after retirement, Ann continued to help out at the law library, and when she noticed “irregularities” in the bookkeeping, dropped a dime with the Office of the Massachusetts State Auditor.

Ann was highly creative and fascinated by the world of colors. For many years, she studied crewel and needlepoint, producing wonderful and bold pieces of art. It took her more than 10 years to finish a medieval needlepoint tapestry of Lady and the Unicorn. She also needlepointed a William Morris Hunt triptych of animals which hangs to this day in her front hall. She always said she did crewel and needlepoint to keep her hands busy so she would not be wringing them with worry about her kids when they were away at college or traveling. For several years, she took watercolor painting classes at the Fitchburg Art Museum. She loved creating the exact hues for her paintings. Were she of criminal ilk, she could have been an impressive forger.

The arrival of Meggie the Maine Coon Cat hindered her watercolor endeavors. A busy cat who loves water and supervising all activities with paint was not a winning combination. Still seeking joy in the world of color, she became an avid fan of adult coloring books. At times so many were piled high on her ottoman that her children feared she might be caught in an avalanche. She said she was willing to take the risk.

Ann is survived by her daughters, Anne and Peg, and her son, John and several nieces and nephews. Her husband, Jack, predeceased her in 2012.

The family is grateful to the caring and compassionate staff at The Gables Assisted Living, where she lived well and happily for 10 months. Ann was made to feel part of a larger family at the Gables. In the final two weeks of her life, the family entrusted Ann to the care team at Ascend Hospice who provided Ann, her children, and Meggie the cat with enormous comfort.

In lieu of flowers, Ann would want people to appreciate some color in their life and to look for something humorous in the day.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ann E. (Markham) O'Connor, please visit our flower store.


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