Waterman-Langone at Boston Harborside

580 Commercial Street, Boston, MA


Marie Agnes Cantlon

September 17, 1927September 9, 2019

Marie Agnes Cantlon, 91, of Boston passed away peacefully at the Atrium at Faxon Woods assisted living facility in Quincy on September 9, 2019.

Ms. Cantlon was a resident of Boston’s West End for 36 years and was an active member of the West End Civic Association. She worked professionally for Harper & Row in New York and San Francisco from 1948-1979. She moved to Beacon Press, in Boston, in 1980 working there until her retirement in 1995.

She was predeceased by her parents, Thomas Augustine and Mary Margaret, her three brothers Rev. Thomas Cronan, Jack (John), James and nephew Kieran John.

She is survived by her two nephews, Thomas of Florham Park, NJ. and Gerard of Waterbury, CT. She has three grand-nephews Ryan, Sean and Evan, and a grand-niece, Emma Kate.

Ms. Cantlon wanted to touch and see the world and that she did; her curiosity was immense, deep and wide.

Born in Kearny, NJ, she made her first of her many overseas trips in 1955, going on a tour of Europe one of the first allowed after the Second World War II. Traveling by boat, she visited Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France.

In her lifetime, she saw Germany morph from occupation by the Allies, to its division as East and West Germany and again when the country was reunified in the early 1990’s visiting the country in each of those time periods.

She went to her native homeland of Ireland and Britain enjoying the rich deep historic culture, the art, the majesty of architecture, music and languages which was a major part of her life.

Her passion for opera took her to numerous American and European opera houses which she toured with a Boston based opera group. She was a student of music, as well as a fan of the skills displayed. Upon entering her home, one was always greeted by the sound of classical music.

Her travels over the years took her to the former nation Yugoslavia (now seven single countries), she particularly enjoyed Croatia, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic) and the African continent, visiting Kenya in early 1980’s. Her last major overseas trip was to India: a lifetime dream.

She enjoyed the beauty of Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto in Canada. She crisscrossed the US from Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. During her San Francisco years, she sampled the vineyards of Napa Valley and visited beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound in Seattle.

Her professional career saw Ms. Cantlon, a highly literate, erudite person, succeed as a religious studies and women's studies editor; her two main areas of professional strength and passion.

She explored all religions in her course of editing books; her personal life long study. While born a Catholic, she was a practicing Episcopalian most of her adult life and was a communicant at St. John the Evangelist, a high Anglo-Catholic church that was decommissioned as a church in April 2015 merging with the Cathedral of St. Paul.

She sought out and learned about many different faiths and how they celebrated life, whether it be mystical Native American shamanism, Zoroastarism, Judaism, Wiccans, Protestantism to Islam.

A committed life long feminist her last major professional endeavor in the area of women’s affairs was editing an encyclopedic compendium for NOW on the History of Women in the United States.

The tome covered the nascent women’s right’s movements that led to universal suffrage, major political and social figures, and business professionals who were part of the changing landscape for women throughout the US.

She arrived in Boston with her three precious cats Pushkin, Greska and Kiwi who made the journey with her from Brooklyn and San Francisco when Marie made Boston her home.

She was a very active member of her community, especially her beloved West End Civic Association where she was President on two occasions. One of their crowning achievements was her and the Association’s tireless efforts working with city officials to obtain a handicap accessible elevator for the Science Park T station.

She was a warm and giving person to friends, family, and people she didn’t even know. She laughed often and with vigor, enjoyed wine with her friends, and tea while consuming another of the many thousands of books she read.

She was an important light and a loving daughter, sister, sister-in-law and Aunt. Her love extended in meeting another young woman, Anne Marie Flynn, from Bloomfield, NJ on a NJ PATH train heading to their college, St. Elizabeth. The conversation grew to friendship and took hold. She introduced Anne to her brother, Jack, and they would eventually marry. The result was three nephews whom she doted over, she being a source of endless love and generosity for the boys.

The visitation will be held on Saturday from 3-7pm at the Waterman-Langone Funeral Home at Boston Harborside, 580 Commercial Street, Boston. Burial will be private.

There will be a brief religious service officiated by Reverend Catharine A. Black starting at 4:30pm. The funeral home will have attendants at the front door.

The family respectfully asks in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your local Alzheimer’s Association and participate in the upcoming national walk/race to raise funding for research for treatments and someday a cure of this disease of dementia.


  • Visitation Saturday, September 14, 2019
  • Prayer Service Saturday, September 14, 2019


Marie Agnes Cantlon

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jane wilson

September 14, 2019

Marie's friends and West End neighbors, and the Board and members of her treasured West End Civic Association (WECA), have wonderful memories of her 36 years here. We are grateful for her WECA presidency in 2007 and 2011, and tireless work to gain elevator access for the Museum of Science/West End T-stop. Our sympathy to her adored nephews and their families. Women, especially, appreciate Marie's ground- and ceiling-breaking talents in the sharp-elbowed publishing world. We wish our inveterate traveler Godspeed on this, her most important and wonderful journey.
-- Jane Breschard Wilson, President, West End Civic Association