Bar Harbor resident Marjorie Walls Cough turned 100 last month. Many of her 13 children (seated, holding photos of her), 27 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, gathered to celebrate. PHOTOS COURTESY OF COUGH FAMILY

Matriarch celebrates 100 years

BAR HARBOR — In 1919, World War I ended, women in the United States gained the vote and the new park on Mount Desert Island was known as Lafayette National Park. That same year, Marjorie Walls Cough was born on September 24 in Otter Creek.


Marjorie turned 100 last month and her large family, including 13 children, 27 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, gathered to celebrate.

Born in her grandmother’s house, Marjorie went to grammar school in Otter Creek, then attended Gilman High School in Northeast Harbor. Her parents owned a greenhouse and a floral store.

After high school, Marjorie found work doing what many locals did: working for summer residents in their lavish “cottages.” She worked in the kitchen.

For entertainment, she went to dances.

“I loved dances,” Marjorie recalled. “I did, when I was young.”

It was at a local dance that she met her future husband, Louis Vincent Cough. Friends called him Vint. He had attended Bar Harbor High School, and was seven years older.

“Everyone used to tell me, ‘Your parents are beautiful dancers,’” remembered daughter Ann McCafferty.

Marjorie Cough, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, graduated from Gilman High School in Northeast Harbor. As a young woman, she worked on the estates of summer residents. She loved attending local dances, where she met her future husband. PHOTO COURTESY OF COUGH FAMILY

Marjorie and Vint were married in Bar Harbor on June 22, 1940. The two of them had been married for 56 years when Vint died in 1996 at the age of 84.

Aside from a few years living in Portland and Vint’s military service overseas during World War II, the couple lived in Bar Harbor for the rest of their married life. For much of that time, Vint worked for the Post Office.

Marjorie, Vint, and their growing family were living on Ash Street when the Fire of 1947 swept toward Bar Harbor, McCafferty said. Marjorie left the island with her five children to stay with relatives, while Vint stayed behind. “He was an optimist,” McCafferty said of her father. “He redid the floors while everyone was away.”

Though the fire came within blocks, it did not burn the family home.

McCafferty had fond memories of the Ash Street home, where she said her mother used to lean on the fence to talk to the next door neighbor. Marjorie did not work outside the home after having children, McCafferty said, noting that raising 13 children was enough work.

McCafferty also recalled that her mother was “never much for pets,” but her brother Tim, who worked at  The Jackson Laboratory, rescued a mouse from the lab floor and brought it home.

The family named the mouse Tiny. Marjorie developed a fondness for the family pet, carrying it around in her apron pocket. “It was so entertaining for us,” McCafferty laughed. “It was so out of character.”

After raising their family on Ash Street, Marjorie and Vint spent their empty-nest years in an in-town apartment. After Vint died in 1996, Marjorie remained living on her own in Bar Harbor, most recently at Birch Bay Village.

Her family came together recently to celebrate her hundredth birthday. Though she has children all over the country, several of them still live nearby, in Bar Harbor, Lamoine, Ellsworth and Bangor.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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