Alice Margaret (Palubinskas) Purington, 76, of Laconia, N.H., died in the care of hospice on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024 at Ledgeview in the Taylor Community in Laconia, N.H. Alice moved to the Taylor community with her late husband of 39 years, Stephen, in September 2018. Before coming to Taylor, Alice retired with Steve to The Farm in North Berwick after years on the faculty at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.
Alice was born in Lawrence, Mass. on Aug. 22, 1947 to the late Alice Lucille (Sewell) Daly and Felix Palubinskas. The family moved to Iowa when Alice was still quite young, for Felix and Lucille to pursue graduate studies at Iowa State University, before they returned to the East Coast and settled in Winchester, Mass. It was on Winslow Road that Alice spent most of her childhood, making friends that would carry into the fullness of her adulthood. Lucille’s mother lived with them, teaching Alice favorite recipes that would stay in regular rotation for decades to come. They spent summers at the cottage in Rockport, Mass. alongside cousins from both sides of the family that grew up alongside Alice as near-siblings. There was clamming on the beach, sun-bathing, bike-riding and so much reading and cooking! Eventually, Lucille and Felix bought property in North Berwick that would become a haven and retreat later passed down to Alice (and Steve). Alice graduated from Winchester High School in 1965, earned a B.A. in Biology at Vassar College, and a M.Ed. at Tufts University.
Always a traveler, Alice spent time after college in Europe and New Zealand, driving around in a VW bus with friends, having adventures, falling in love, serving as a travel-agent and opening a shop in New Zealand for home furnishings and local artisan crafts. Upon her return to the U.S., she briefly taught middle school before pursuing a graduate degree. After Tufts, she worked in the Admissions Office at Wellesley College, and then “jumped the desk” and went into college counseling in Massachusetts, first at Williston Northampton School and then at Phillips Academy Andover.
As a college counselor, Alice believed it her job to tell “the story” of a student in her recommendation letters, coining that term to keep the student at the center of her writing and inspiring her colleagues to do the same. She was a leader in her field, recognized by the College Board as one of the best, and sought out for advice and wisdom years after her retirement. To colleagues, she became known as the “dean of graciousness” as her empathy was palpable in every encounter, but also for the traditions of fun and revelry that she helped to start in the office. It was important to Alice that space felt inviting and warm. Any space she occupied exuded her spirit of care— furnishings were intentional and comfortable. The collection of people that knew and loved her grew with each chapter of her life — friends, colleagues, former students, neighbors and “puppy play group”.
It was at Williston Northampton School that she met Steve, who was also on the faculty there. They married months after finding each other, and remained very much in love ever after. Together they had so many glorious adventures and travels — Alice always made an itinerary!
The Farm became a place of retreat and a destination for family and friends, with Steve and Alice as hosts alongside their chocolate labs, Canfield and later Guinness and Moxie. Stunning gardens of flowers and vegetables, a big kitchen that was often filled with friends cooking together, nooks and crannies for serious conversations or dwelling in the exquisite beauty of place, any time of the day, any season of the year. On the back patio in the sun, or on the front porch at sunset, Alice loved listening to the crickets, talking politics, puzzling, or reading a good book, with dogs and loved ones close at hand.
Alice believed in the making and keeping of small traditions. Favorites included: lunch at Barnacle Billy’s on Fenway’s Opening Day; Derby Day Parties; strawberries and champagne for Wimbledon; pancakes for Maine Maple Sunday; celebrating the blossoming of the daffodils in April; toasting the blooming of the clivia plants; and of course, “open the bottle” night.
In her retirement years, Alice became active in the North Berwick Historical Society, helping to author a volume on the town’s history. She and Steve also served as Trustees of the Hurd Library in North Berwick.
Alice lived with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis during the last 20 years of her life. She was the grateful recipient of a single-lung transplant in 2010, which gave her and those who loved her the gift of so many more years.
Alice was predeceased by her husband, Stephen, on Dec. 12, 2023. Together, they leave behind a great extended family of siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews and “greats”, and friends as close as family, including an honorary daughter, Gina Finocchiaro of Andover, Mass.
A time to honor and remember both Steve and Alice will take place in the spring. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the notification list once details are confirmed.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the D.A. Hurd Library, 41 High St., North Berwick, ME 03906.