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Theresa Kathleen's Story

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Theresa Kathleen (McDermott) Sousa, 89, formerly of Lowell, died Monday, Nov. 20, in Ocala, Fla., following a short illness. She was born Oct. 12, 1928, in Lowell, the eldest child of the late Robert E. and Mary Agnes (Quinn) McDermott.
Terry attended Lowell public schools, graduating in 1946 from Lowell High School, where she was a popular cheerleader and a baton twirler. She also enjoyed dancing and took part in roller dancing competitions in Boston Garden.
Terry was married Dec. 11, 1951, to Raymond K. Sousa, with whom she had two children. Marital bliss can be fleeting, however, and within a few years they had gone their separate ways. As a single mother, Terry devoted herself to providing her children with every advantage. On a waitress’s salary she sent them to St. Margaret’s Elementary School and Keith Academy, both in Lowell, and St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. An accomplished seamstress, Terry often made their dance recital costumes herself.
Fiercely independent (she proudly embraced the title “stubborn Irishman”), Terry was determined to succeed in a world where the deck often was stacked against single women. She worked long hours, saved, and bought a cottage on Salisbury Beach. Then, in fulfillment of a lifelong dream, Terry moved her family, including her mother, to Florida, saved some more, and bought a second home. For nearly 50 years, Terry drove to Massachusetts for the summer and returned to Florida for the winter. She even expanded both houses to accommodate her growing family as her children married and started families of their own.
Family was always the focus of Terry’s life. She never forgot a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or wedding of any of her aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces or nephews, and she always marked these events with a phone call, card or gift. Her support helped make it possible for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to attend private schools, pursue athletic and artistic interests, travel, and go to college. This summer and fall, Terry proudly attended the weddings of her grandson and great-granddaughter, both in Ohio.
A lifelong waitress and bartender, Terry worked at the Blue Moon Restaurant in Lowell; Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, N.H.; the Flamingo Hotel in Miami, Fla.; the Normandy Lounge on Salisbury Beach, and, for 39 years, at Boca Rio Golf Club in Boca Raton, Fla. She had a knack for remembering people, their families, their favorite food and drinks. She was beloved by two generations of members at Boca Rio, watching over them like family.
Terry was preceded in death by her mother and father; son and daughter-in-law, Edward Anthony and Charlene Sousa; brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Priscilla McDermott, and beloved aunt, Anna Hogan. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Kathleen and Kendall Downs; two grandchildren, Kristina Shaffer and Sean Downs; five great-grandchildren; cousin, Patricia Laurent; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Visiting hours will be Friday, 4 to 8 p.m., at Twomey-LeBlanc-Conte Funeral Home, 193 High Street, Newburyport. Funeral Mass will be Saturday, 11:30 a.m., at Star of the Sea Church, 140 North End Blvd., Salisbury. Interment will follow at Long Hill Cemetery.
Flowers and plants are welcome. Donations also may be made in her name to the Lowell Humane Society or the no-kill animal shelter of your choice.
For directions or to offer online condolences, please visit www.tlcfuneralhome.com.
Published on  November 29, 2017
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