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PostHeaderIcon John J. Mara of MA, November 30, 1927 – January 5, 2024

NOVEMBER 30, 1927 – JANUARY 5, 2024

John J. Mara of Shutesbury, MA, enjoyed a long, healthy, active life well into his 96th year and even in his last months he said he felt like age 50 inside! His secret for a long life was “never stop moving, practice gratitude and have faith in God”. He died a natural death in the peace and comfort of his own home on Lake Wyola at dawn on January 5, 2024 in the care of his loving family.

John Joseph was born at home to Italian immigrants from Sicily on November 30th in the year 1927 in South Boston, MA, the 5th of 10 children with a rich family history. He graduated from Boston’s Abraham Lincoln School in 1942 and Boston Technical High School in 1945 with a degree in drafting.

He married his beautiful wife Rose (Guazzerotti), of East Boston, in 1951. They met at a dance hall in Boston and John knew she was “the one”, vowing she would never return to the dance hall for risk of another man setting his eyes on her. His favorite song at the time was “Rose Marie” and when she told him that night that her middle name was Marie he knew they were destined to be. They were married 58 years before her passing in 2009. They were blessed with 4 children and the family resided first in Jamaica Plain and then Saugus, MA.

John was an exceptionally talented and highly respected draftsman/technical illustrator for MIT, working for Professor Arthur Von Hipple (“The Prof” as he affectionately referred to him) and other scientists from 1945-1990. That was back in the day when drafting was all skillfully done by hand. He had the privilege of meeting and designing drawings for distinguished and renowned individuals such as Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr, artist MC Escher, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, the “Queen of Carbon Science” Mildred (Millie) Dresselhaus, Itzhak Perlman the famous violinist and the visionary photographer Don Edgerton (Papa Flash).

He stood alongside the scientists who witnessed the creation of liquid helium for the first time in history and even drove with them around Boston to see what would occur. If you’re at all curious, it evaporated. His work can be found in the scientific literature of educational and government institutions. After 45 years at MIT, he retired and moved with his wife Rose to Lake Wyola in Shutesbury, MA.

John entertained family and friends with his sense of humor and joke telling, always leaving the crowd wanting more. Sometimes this was to the dismay of his family who might have heard one of his jokes a few too many times! His wife was the exception, she was all ears, reveling as if she was hearing each joke for the first time. “Have you heard the one about…..?!”

John was a kind and generous man who helped others in inconspicuous ways. He was known to literally give a stranger a sweater or coat out of the trunk of his car, or hand out coins and grocery totes at Aldis Market. He would gather his returnable cans and pass them on to the infamous plastic bag woman who collected them on the street. You might have even bumped into him in the grocery store aisle proclaiming the harm of high fructose corn syrup or bestowing the virtues of organic extra virgin olive oil because he sincerely wanted you to eat healthy! When you take advantage of the family discount at Salvation Army, you can thank John for that as he convinced the manager that it’s not just seniors who need a break but even more so for struggling families.

John was inquisitive and interested in science, history and marveled at how things are made. He had great admiration and respect for Albert Einstein. Got a question about WWII? He could answer it. He loved music (a disc jockey in his youth), and the dancing of the Fred Astaire era, and he was a dandy dancer himself, a fabulous jitterbugger back in the day with his favorite partner Rose. He enjoyed puzzle making, entertaining and cooking all kinds of delicious meals. He was a bowling enthusiast and lifetime bowler, most recently with friends at French King Bowling Center until age 92. He and Rose enjoyed taking bus tours around NE taking in musical theater and making new friends.

He loved to “hunt” through flea markets, tag sales and second hand stores always in anticipation of some treasure or bargain. If it was broken, no problem he could fix it. Can’t find what you need? To his glory, he had a way of making it appear from his trove of treasures. He was quite the handy man, enjoyed woodworking and took great pride in transforming his retirement home on Lake Wyola from a cottage to a comfortable year-round residence.

Most importantly, he lived with gratitude and was a man of devotion and faith in God which sustained him up until his passing. He wonderfully embraced his role as provider for his family and was a loving and proud father and grandfather. He says “goodbye for now” to his four beloved children, and devoted sons-in-law: Paula (Paul) Lyons of Shutesbury, MA; James Mara of Littleton, MA; Louise Mara (James LaBonte) of Leominster, MA; Ruth Mara, of Shutesbury, MA; and two adored grandchildren and their spouses, Jaron Lyons (Elise Flynn) of Wendell, MA and Kendra Lyons (Dan Whatley) of St Petersburg, FL; and one precious 3 year old great-granddaughter Zia Colleen. He also bids farewell to a dear brother Paul and his wife Diane from CA, his little sister Doris of MA, and many, many nieces and nephews.

You know how there are those character actors in the movies who play a quiet but memorable part? Well, in this drama of life that’s how we see John’s part and how we will remember him; a talented, simple, loving, kind and generous man who touched our lives in a unique way. His physical presence among us will be dearly missed.

Services are private with interment of his ashes in the Springtime to join Rose’s at St. Brigid’s Cemetery in Hadley, beneath a tombstone that’s engraved with “I Remember You” a song he sang to her many times. With our hearts united as a family we celebrate his life and reunion in Spirit with his beloved wife.

Our deepest gratitude goes to the Hospice Angels at Pioneer Valley who lovingly and tenderly supported our family and cared for John over the last several months of his life. He says to them, it was “nice” to have known you.

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