Elizabeth McGahan


2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Brenan's Paradise Row Funeral Home
111 Paradise Row
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Mass of Christian Burial

11:00 am
Thursday, August 3, 2023
St. Ann's Church
135 Simpson Drive
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
(506) 653-6870


St. Joseph's Cemetery
327 Westmorland Road
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Obituary of Elizabeth Walsh McGahan

McGahan, Elizabeth Moore Walsh at home after a lengthy period of failing health. Predeceased by her husband Peter Michael McGahan (1943-1997), former professor of sociology at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton (1970-1984) and Saint John (1984-1997); former dean of faculty at UNBSJ (1984-1992) and dean of arts UNBSJ (1992-1996). Predeceased also by her parents, Patrick Michael Walsh, and, Elizabeth Kelly, who immigrated from western Ireland to America in the 1920s. They settled in Boston where they found initial employment in the hospitality industry. She is survived by her brother, Michael, his wife Elizabeth and their daughters Dr. Megan Elizabeth Walsh, MD, and Catherine Margaret Walsh and their spouses, Noel Normoyle and David Carton, and families, Thomas Michael and Owen Patrick Normoyle, and Niamh Elizabeth, Liam Anthony and Rory Patrick Carton.

Elizabeth McGahan was born on May 31, 1943 in Boston, MA., USA. After WWII her parents moved the family to New York City where her primary and secondary education occurred under the auspices of the Archdiocese of New York. Her elementary and secondary classrooms were staffed by the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, New York whose personal dedication to the education of immigrant children enabled Elizabeth, and others like her, to receive instruction in basic subjects and the faith. She felt forever indebted to these women whose personal sacrifice and commitment had so generously, and significantly, contributed to her start in life. Following graduation from high school, McGahan attended Boston College (1961-1965), where the then, still cassocked, Jesuits delivered their lectures from raised platforms at the front of lecture halls. Her M.A. was completed at Queens College, City University of New York and her Ph.D. at the University of New Brunswick. From 1965 to 1970 she taught in the Bedford Public School system in Westchester County, New York, which awarded her tenure in 1967. Ian 1970 she and her husband moved to Fredericton, N.B., Canada.

Elizabeth McGahan’s research career focused on urban history, especially transportation development in the late nineteenth century and religious history, particularly the history of vowed women religious (nuns). In New Brunswick she worked as a part time lecturer at UNBF and UNBSJ. In addition to two books, The Port of Saint John (1982) and Whispers from the Past (1986), she also authored a number of articles.

She was a member of several regional, national, and international historical associations, receiving the Martha J. Harvey Award of Distinction for service to the York Sunbury Historical Society in 1988 [Fredericton,NB]. Additionally, she served briefly as a member of the executives of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association during which time she edited the association’s journal, Historical Studies, and the American Catholic Historical Association. McGahan also served for a number of years as president and board member of the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum.

Elizabeth advocated for the preservation of Saint John’s rich built environment and served on the City of Saint John’s Preservation Review Board for several years.

She was a proponent of what she believed was the necessary expansion of roles for the laity in the Catholic church, particularly for women, and most important including the ordination of women. She participated in myriad activities within her church including teaching religious education classes, serving on the planning/building committee of Sts. John and Paul Church in New Maryland, NB and serving as a lector and Eucharistic minister in her Saint John parish. As a member of the diocesan cemetery committee, she contributed to the beautification of St Joseph’s Cemetery in Saint John, site of her husband’s final resting place.

Elizabeth McGahan`s family is grateful for the care and attention she received during her period of decline. They are especially thankful to John Nugent, Neil Fulton, Denise Williams, Myra Murphy; Elizabeth Cann and Roberta Lee. She was always appreciative of the enormous support she received from friends, Dr. Linda Nugent, Sr. Mary Devlin, scic, and Elizabeth Cann following her husband’s
untimely death in 1997.

Donations in Elizabeth McGahan’s memory may be made to the University of New Brunswick (McGahan scholarships [Fredericton and Saint John campuses]), Saints Joachim and Ann R.C. Church [Saint John], the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Diabetes

Funeral Arrangements are under the care and direction of Brenan's Funeral Home, 111 Paradise Row, Saint John, NB (506-634-7424). Visitation is scheduled for 2:00-6:00pm on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, at Brenan’s Funeral Home. A Funeral Mass on Thursday August 3, 2023 at 11:00am will be held from St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, 135 Simpson Dr. with interment at St Joseph’s cemetery to follow immediately thereafter.

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