In Memory of




Obituary for Margaret (Ward) Quinlan

Margaret Helen (Ward) Quinlan, 86, of Essex Junction, VT, completed the final chapter of her life on earth in the early morning hours of February 10, 2022. Her story began August 5, 1935, in Underhill, Vermont. Her parents, Robert and Helen (Bapp) Ward blessed Margaret with three sisters: Elizabeth (Liz), Bertha (Bert) and Janet plus two brothers: George and Wendall. Early chapters of her life centered on schooling, playing and cultivating a love of the written word.

Margaret’s story took greater shape and deeper meaning when she met her future husband, Donald Lewis Quinlan. They fell in love, married and became a benchmark for the breadth and depth of love and commitment. Margaret had now become part of another family, the Quinlans. Albert and Eileen Quinlan were her second set of parents and she also gained four more brothers: James, Francis, Leonard and Gerald. Margaret and Donald followed a path from Vermont to Massachusetts to Connecticut as Donald began and continued his higher education; Margaret worked at the Universities he attended and also took classes at those Universities. While at UVM, the office in which she worked had very little foot traffic and she was often left to her own devices. That meant she would bring a book to work, put it in her center desk drawer and read…shutting the drawer when someone arrived. She recalled, “But, War and Peace was too thick. I had to tear it in half so it would fit.”

Margaret and Donald settled in Preston, CT, and “bought a house to wrap around” their daughter Colleen. Margaret’s next several chapters involved being a partner in all ways to Donald, raising Colleen and volunteering her time and effort supporting St. Catherine of Sienna Church, local government, Women’s Services and many other organizations. She also met several women with whom she became life-long friends. When Colleen was old enough, Margaret went back to work for the State of Connecticut as Executive Secretary at Norwich Hospital. She outlasted several bosses, with whom she became personal friends, and happily retired to, again, focus on home life.

Margaret’s story revisited her roots when she and Donald moved back to Vermont to be closer to their families. They visited Bert and Eileen daily to discuss the events of the day, reminisce and catch up with everyone who stopped by. Margaret had always enjoyed seeing her family expand. She was graced with many nieces and nephews who grew and had children of their own. All were welcomed with love, joy and anticipation for their futures. Margaret and Donald could not have been more thrilled to become Grandparents to Kathryn Sean Atkinson and Juliette Frances Atkinson. Margaret reveled in their adventures and eagerly followed their lives as they became the amazing young women they are today.

Margaret’s final chapters were full with love, family, friends and “growing old with Donald”. They held hands every day, completely enjoyed each other’s company and loved each other a little bit more every day.

Margaret’s mortal death was as gentle and unassuming as her personality. The impact of her life, however, is great. Margaret was a good friend, hard worker, loving wife, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, mother and grandmother. She looked for the goodness within everyone.

Margaret will be missed by her husband of 69 years, Donald, their daughter, Colleen Atkinson, and granddaughters Kathryn and Juliette Atkinson. She will also be missed by her sisters Bertha (Paul) Dixon of Zephyrhills, Florida, and Janet (Duke) Powell of Williston, Vermont, brother George (Barbara) Ward of Richmond, Vermont, brother-in-law Gerry Quinlan of Williston, Vermont, sisters-in-law Betty Quinlan of Arizona, Sue Quinlan of South Burlington, Vermont and Beverly Lavoie of Florida. Margaret’s many nieces and nephews will also miss her. She was predeceased by her parents Robert and Helen Ward, parents-in-law Albert and Eileen Quinlan, sister Elizabeth LaVigne, brother Wendall Ward, brothers-in-law James (Betty), Francis (Sue) and Leonard (Beverly) Quinlan and sister-in-law June (Gerry) Quinlan.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 am on Tuesday, February 15, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Williston. Burial will be private. Donations in Margaret’s memory can be made to Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the charity of the donor’s choice.