Water Closet for 8-9-13, GOOD BYE RITA

     On Sunday afternoon July 28, 2013 Middleton lost one of its most energetic citizens. Rita M. (McGilloway) Kelley, 86, longtime friend of the Stream Team and almost anyone else who ever met her, died.  How can we relate her to water, our subject?  It is easy with Rita because she was an outdoorswoman, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother never far from water.  One Stream Teamer remembers canoeing with her and husband Robert from a Cranes Beach, Ipswich, outing, up wide salt marsh cricks after a day of beach play and swimming.  A sudden brisk west wind had the waves up. Our canoes took on water.  Not all in the several canoes could swim.  We were told by friends who had survived other adventures with them that it was just another day with the Kelleys.  Then there was the week and one-half long Lake Placid canoe trip, which Rita and Bob did when they were about 60.  They experienced fatigue and were wet or cold much of the several days.  Their greatest challenge may have been the time they joined their son Stephen hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  He went all the way in two summers; they approaching what most consider retirement age, did long sections over many days with him.  Rita proudly told of fording swollen, cold streams in the far northern portion.

     We shouldn’t have been surprised.  She had wet roots.  Her immigrant parents John and Sarah crossed the North Atlantic from Ireland, an island nation.  She grew up in Dorchester by the sea where she met crackerjack athlete Robert Kelley also of Dorchester.  He in his later years won many awards as a “senior swimmer”.  She cheered him on at his many meets.  And then there is Middleton Pond, which she lived next to and hiked the three miles ‘round almost daily for more than forty years.  Another immigrant and neighbor, Chitose from Japan, hiked with her and Page Campbell and the late Jean Stewart all of Middleton.  An old stream teamer, husband of the Japanese-American hiker, calculated that the pond hikes of Chitose and Rita tallied close to the circumference of the Earth (40 years x 200 days/year x 3 miles = 24,000 miles).  The hiking ladies happily chatted, argued, studied plants under Page, slipped on ice, and shared family woes and triumphs within sight of Middleton Pond’s calming waters.  Rita and Jean had but to look out their windows to sense its daily moods.  

     As this paragraph is being written, Rita, a lifelong devout Catholic, is awaiting her funeral mass in St. Agnes church not far from her home and beloved pond.  Blessed rain is falling on church roof and pond.  Some Stream Teamer friends like to imagine this gentle rain a second baptism for her.  And that any tears they find falling are not from sadness but rather a sense of change.  As Mary Jane Morrin, former selectman and all around good citizen wrote in an email upon hearing of her passing, “I cannot imagine Middleton without Rita.”

     The following morning her fine mass ended with the singing of a hymn entitled Irish Blessing.  One of its lines is: “May the rain fall softly on you . . .” 


Note:  For further information about this five-foot tall, dynamo of a woman, see her obituary in the Tri-Town Transcript.  In her long role as a leader in Middleton’s Historical Society she helped us research subjects for the Water Closet and various other Stream Team projects.  


Correction:  Jennifer Revill of East Street Middleton corrected an error in our “King’s Pool plunge on the Fourth of July” article printed in the Tri-Town Transcript on 7/19/13.  The name King’s Pool did not “disappear with time” as we wrote. She has documentation showing it was named after a local landowner. 

Correction:  In an August 2010 essay entitled “On Pleasure Pond”, page 268 of our book The Water Closet, the correct name Prichard is repeatedly misspelled with a “t” as in Pritchard. 






Precipitation Data* for Month of:  May  June  July  Aug  
30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches 4.06 3.95 4 3.89 3.37  
 2013  Central Watershed Actual   3.80   8.70   4.48   0.75 up to 8/6**


Ipswich River Flow Rate(S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet per Second (CFS):


For Aug 6  2013:    Normal . . . 7.6 CFS          Current Rate 17 CFS


*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru July. Normalsdata is from the National Climatic Data Center.

** Updated Aug precipitation data is from MST gage

THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: www.middletonstreamteam.org or <MSTMiddletonMA@gmail.com> or (978) 777-4584