Fred Malcolm (Mac!)'s Story
Fred Malcolm “Mac!” MacBurnie, 90, passed peacefully under the compassionate care of High Pointe House Hospice in Haverhill early Friday morning, October 27, 2017, with his daughter, Carol, by his side.
Mac was born August 20, 1927, in Newburyport, to the late Fred W. and Jean (Malcolm) MacBurnie. He felt privileged to grow up in “Joppa” and on Plum Island as it gave him his lifelong appreciation and love of the Merrimac River, the ocean, the sun, the sand, and the salt water marshes.
Mac graduated Newburyport High School and did a post grad year at Governor Dummer Academy. He was a proud World War II Navy veteran. He married the love of his life, Helen (Woodsom) MacBurnie, on August 5, 1949, and celebrated 68 years of marriage in August. They spent their married life in Newbury dedicated to giving their two children, Carol and David, the best childhoods ever. We felt the love!
He worked in the family trucking business, Graf Bros. Express, as a driver and then dispatcher. For decades he delighted in telling stories of his escapades at Graf Bros., working with his brothers, Dick, Duncan, Bobby, and Doug. Mac was a police officer for the Newbury Police Department retiring after 30 years with the department. He worked for a decade with his “clam buddies” for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the Plum Island Shellfish facility. Mac was a commercial clam digger and there are no doubts that digging shellfish was the vocation that gave him the greatest joy. He lived for the tide being right and the camaraderie of the diggers he adored (you know who you are). He especially loved digging with his son, Barney, and down the road those memories were precious to him. Mac dug his last pail of clams at age 83 and until a week ago checked the parking lot at Parker River daily to see who was on the water.
Mac was an avid and accomplished water fowl hunter and enjoyed pheasant hunting. He loved salt water fishing of all types. He especially loved handline fishing the Merrimac for flounder with Carol and Helen. His proudest “fish tale” was landing a 600-pound tuna by harpoon with Barney in a skiff off Lee Stevens’ tuna boat. He described that adventure every single time he watched his favorite show, “Wicked Tuna.” Mac loved nature, the outdoors, and wildlife. In his later years, he and Helen enjoyed bird watching and drove the Plum Island Wildlife Reservation every afternoon. They especially enjoyed tracking turkeys all over Newbury.
Mac loved ice hockey and in his youth he played for Governor Dummer Academy and later in a semi pro hockey league. He continued playing pickup games into his forties. He was a sports enthusiast and a loyal fan of the Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics. He enjoyed cribbage and played three games with Helen every evening. Mac was a member of the Newbury First Parish Congregational Church and a longtime deacon of the church. He was a proud brother of St. John’s Lodge Masonic Temple in Newburyport.
Mac was a committed, loyal, generous, and loving husband, father, and grandfather -- the best! He adored his family and we knew it. He leaves his wife, Helen (Woodsom) MacBurnie; his daughter, Carol; and granddaughter, Casey Elizabeth, the light of his life. He leaves his grandson, Andrew David, his precious buddy; and Andrew’s dear friend, Kaycie Germain. He was predeceased by Andrew’s mother, Julie Lamothe. Life was never quite the same without his son, David Malcolm “Barney," who predeceased him. Mac is certain Barney is waiting on the “other side” for him. Mac, Dad, Grampy, you knew you were our hero and absolutely the wind beneath our wings!
Mac is survived by his many siblings and spouses whom he loved dearly. He leaves brothers, A. Douglas (Sandra), Richard (Christine), Robert (Beverly), and Duncan (Barbara); and his sister, A. Patricia Sayward. His nieces and nephews brought great joy to him; David, Jeffrey, Stephanie, Mark, Marie, Martha, Pam, Linda, Suzanne, Sarah, Annie, Dougie, Patti, and Cheryl. He was predeceased by his beloved sister, Jean and her husband, Gene Palumbo; his adored sister, Martha, and brother, Everett; his brother-in-law, Donald “Sonny” Sayward, who was his favorite hunting buddy; his nephew, Thomas Palumbo; and his aunt, Ann Malcolm.
From the moment he met Helen, he was welcomed to life at the Woodsom Farm and for a lifetime her siblings were his siblings. He leaves Anna Woodsom, Ruth Twomey, Sally Anderson, Mary Dugrenier (Gary), Marjorie Sicard, and George Woodsom (Tucky). He was blessed by and loved his nieces and nephews; Linda, Diane, Marsha, Dale, Jay, Keith, Stevie, Kyle, Cindy, Doug, Robert, Andrea, Patti, Ashley, and Bobby. Watching his great nieces, Erika and Ali, grow up brought great joy to him. He was predeceased by Harriet and Robert Gould, Robert Anderson, Phil Sicard, Eleanor (Ellie has the parcheesi board ready for you, Mac!), and Frank Dugrenier, Michael S. Twomey; and his nephews, Jon Gould and Michael F. Twomey Jr.
Mac’s many friends and relatives hold a special place in his heart. The family extends heartfelt gratitude to all those who enabled him to live at home independently until his calling; neighbors, Nellie and Jim Welch and Carolyn and Joe O’Keefe; Lee Walton who kept his car cruising and rescued him countless times; Brian and Judy who always had his back; John Kelly ”snowplow man;” his pal, Wes at the Institution for Savings for his patience and expertise; his breakfast buddies at the Agawam Diner, and his entire “family” (his girls) at the Agawam Diner. Love to all of the Woodsoms and MacBurnies who lent support during this difficult time and to Uncle Dick and Aunt Christine who never failed to be by his side “holding court” with Carol during his hospital/rehab challenges.
Mac received care from many dedicated, compassionate, and highly skilled individuals, each a credit to the medical profession. His family thanks the Anna Jacques Hospital, Great Lakes Caring, and High Pointe Hospice House for their outstanding attention to his challenges. To the ICU team of nurses (Patty, Steve, Alexis, and Helen) you are the family’s unsung heroes. Patty, he needed an angel and he found you. The dedication, competence, and diligence of Dr. Glenney, Dr. Laspina, Dr. Gross, Dr. Ghiasuddin, and Dr. Peter Shactman blessed Mac with decades of wellness as well as coveted time with family and friends over recent weeks.
In honor of Mac’s wishes he will be cremated. Visiting hours will be Wednesday, November 1, 2017, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Elliott, Woodworth & Rogers Family Funeral Home, 35 Green Street, Newburyport, with Masonic Services conducted by St. John’s Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Newburyport at 3:30 p.m. prior to the start of the visiting hours.
Per Mac’s request, he will sit on the mantle beside the ashes of his beloved cat, Duke, who predeceased him in June. He will wait for Helen to join him and then follow the beacon to the other side where loved ones are waiting. At that time a burial ceremony will be held followed by a celebration of life. In lieu of flowers please consider donating blood to the American Red Cross, hugging a loved one, or enjoying a large bowl of steamers.
Published on  October 30, 2017