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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Liz McQuinn recalled as ‘the boss’ with ‘a heart of gold’ and hearty, contagious laugh

NASHUA – Liz McQuinn was Cico Vargas’ grandmother, but to him, she was more like a second mom. And because McQuinn was loath to “treat you like a baby if you got hurt,” instead ordering kids to “just suck it up,” Vargas also called her “my best friend” out of respect and admiration.

The young man was among roughly 200 family members, friends and associates of Elizabeth Goode McQuinn who gathered Saturday to remember the longtime Nashuan described as a “very young, full-of-life 60 years old” who died early Wednesday morning when her car and a dump truck collided in South Merrimack. ...

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NASHUA – Liz McQuinn was Cico Vargas’ grandmother, but to him, she was more like a second mom. And because McQuinn was loath to “treat you like a baby if you got hurt,” instead ordering kids to “just suck it up,” Vargas also called her “my best friend” out of respect and admiration.

The young man was among roughly 200 family members, friends and associates of Elizabeth Goode McQuinn who gathered Saturday to remember the longtime Nashuan described as a “very young, full-of-life 60 years old” who died early Wednesday morning when her car and a dump truck collided in South Merrimack.

Anthony Silva Paquin, another of Liz McQuinn’s 13 grandchildren, followed Vargas to the lectern at St. Joseph the Worker parish Saturday morning and quietly shared how much she meant to him.

“Grammy … was very supportive of me,” the young man began. “She always put me and my family before herself. She would always be there for us.”

Mourners, sensing that the boys must have summoned plenty of courage in order to go up and speak, broke into spontaneous applause as they made their way back to their seats.

Merrimack police continue to investigate the tragic accident, which happened at Route 101A and Continental Boulevard, a busy intersection with a reputation of being tricky because of limited sight distance, especially for eastbound motorists.

The driver of the dump truck, Kyle Witty, 43, of Cornish, was unhurt. Police said Witty, whose truck was carrying a load of stone, was headed east on Route 101A and McQuinn was in the process of turning left onto Route 101A from a McDonald’s restaurant when the accident occurred.

But police reports and official statements were the furthest things from everyone’s minds Saturday as they recalled, through tears, laughter and deep affection, the family “rock” who greeted everyone with a big hug and “Hi, sweetie,” or “Hi, dear,” and was known for punctuating so many conversations with a laugh so hearty that, her brother-in-law Rob McQuinn said, “you couldn’t help but laugh along with her.”

Rob McQuinn, a brother of Liz McQuinn’s husband, Brian, who was asked to deliver the eulogy on Saturday, said he was “deeply honored” by the request. “I’m not much for words,” McQuinn began, but when it comes to describing someone like Liz McQuinn, he found that words came easily.

“Mom, ma, nanny, sister, Elizabeth, Aunt Liz … cupcake,” he read off one by one, bringing a few chuckles for “cupcake.”

“A best friend. The go-to person. Funny. Kind-hearted. Truly the most down-to-earth person you’ll ever know,” McQuinn continued. “The biggest heart. One amazing woman.”

Her family affectionately called Liz McQuinn “the boss,” but also “a princess” who loved presiding over her household, telling whiners to “suck it up” when necessary but also knowing when a situation called for a warm hug or kind, heartfelt words of encouragement.

Cheryl and Frank Walley are neighbors of the McQuinns who befriended the family soon after both families moved to Briarcliff Drive around 25 years ago.

“It’s so hard … she’s just such a wonderful person,” Cheryl Walley said. “Our daughters are about the same ages; she used to babysit mine years ago when I was working nights. The whole family, they’re great people … this has to be so difficult for them.”

The Rev. Francis Joseph Christian, pastor of St. Joseph and an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, told Saturday’s attendees that the unexpected, tragic death of such an “outgoing person, so full of fun, so full of life” as McQuinn is a harsh reminder of how fragile life is.

“None of us imagined we’d be here today for the purpose that we are here,” Christian said. “When tragedy like this occurs, it reminds us of the fragility of life … although we can’t dwell on the fact our lives are very fragile.”

Humans by nature “like to think we’re in control,” he continued. “But sometimes we can’t control things as much as we’d like to.

Elizabeth was so authentic, so full of life, and then … tragedy. A tragedy we can’t control.”

Christian assured McQuinn’s family and friends that she truly “loved being with all of you.”

“She loved the beach. She loved her motorcycle. But most of all, she loved all of you,” he said.

McQuinn, who worked at Cable Assemblies in Amherst for the past decade, had been devoting time to caring for her husband during a recent illness as well as helping to care for her elderly mom. Still she made time to arrange family get-
togethers, among them their traditional Christmastime Chinese-food party that grew from a handful of immediate family members to dozens of celebrants.

Rob McQuinn delivered his own words of comfort in wrapping up his eulogy.

“Liz drew family together,” he said. “Although she is not here physically, Liz will be with all of us for the rest of our lives.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).