Friendship, loyalty, hospitality, compassion, wisdom and grace. Across the generations of Trinity Women, Anne Marie McGovern, Class of 1950, was unparalleled for the many ways in which she exemplified the values we share in and through Trinity. Whether remembering all of the names of all alumnae — married, maiden, nicknames and camp names — and their children and spouses and pets — or knowing the different preferences among alumnae in Naples, Cape Cod, Chicago or Napa Valley, Anne Marie had the remarkable gift of connecting immediately and personally with every single graduate of Trinity.
Anne Marie’s death last week was a great loss for her wonderful daughters Nancy ’79, Suzy and Sheila, their children and families, and also a source of sorrow for so many friends and classmates in 1950 and other classes who knew her well. And immediately, the stories began…. Anne Marie was well known for her inimitable style, love of social engagement of all kinds, lively interest in other people and seemingly endless capacity for discussing the news of the day and who among the vast Trinity family might be the protagonists.
I first met Anne Marie when I was a student at Trinity, and by my junior year I was one of the students she kept busy during Reunion with myriad assignments, and that’s how I got to know so many alumnae of all decades. I loved working at reunions, the friendships and endless talk well into the night proved fascinating and a real education into the lives of women —- in the 1970’s when I was a student, Trinity Women from the early 20th Century still attended reunion, and I loved getting to know the great women like Peg Blodgett ’19 whose sister was Sr. Helen Sheehan for whom the library was named. I had the privilege to know Marcella Seymour ’24 for whom Seymour Court is named, and Mary Field Goubeau ’27 whose great bequest has cared for Notre Dame Chapel. Anne Marie introduced me as a young alumna to all of these iconic women of Trinity, and over the years I treasured their wise advice and friendship.
Anne Marie became Trinity’s Alumnae Association Director in 1972, a position she held until 1994. After my student days, I still worked with Anne Marie as a volunteer, member of the Alumnae Board and later president of the Alumnae Association before becoming the college president. Along the way, Anne Marie was always gracious and eager to welcome alumnae to campus, to make sure that alma mater served their needs and interests well, and she was equally eager to share news from Trinity with all alumnae. We sometimes traveled together to visit alumnae chapters all over the country, and I was always amazed by the large network of friends she cultivated and how much she knew about every alumna in each region.
When Anne Marie retired in 1994, our great President Emerita Sr. Margaret Claydon ’45, SND, spoke at a celebratory Mass for Anne Marie in Notre Dame Chapel. Sr. Margaret’s words seem very fitting today as we mourn the loss of Anne Marie but also remember with gladness all that she meant to Trinity and our alumnae:
Sr. Margaret spoke of Anne Marie’s “…witty presence on the Marble Corridor where for twenty-two years she made every alumna feel at home and welcome, and from which emanated that inexhaustible creative energy that gave birth to Antiques & Uniques, Trinity at Lincoln Center, Winter Follies, Alumnae Book Sale, the Admissions Train, Faculty Follies, Trinity on the Cape and Trinity by the Sea. I suppose we could say [quoting Frost]…
“When to the heart of many was it ever less than treason
To go with the drift of things,
To say good-bye with a grace
To the end of a love or a season?”
We say good-bye to Anne Marie with reluctance, indeed, and with gratitude for the many gifts she shared with thousands of Trinity alumnae, students and faculty who reaped so many benefits from her presence at Trinity. She truly exemplified the values we sing about in the alma mater, paraphrasing here:
Trinity, her heart was loving you,
Trinity, her life was living you!
Our deepest condolences are with Nancy, Suzy, Sheila and their families. We will announce an occasion to remember Anne Marie at Trinity in the days to come.