Margaret Howe Kitchings June 2, 1917 – January 16, 2017
By Patricia C. Kitchings
This January, Child and Family Agency said farewell to a longstanding friend and advocate of children and the New London community. Margaret Howe Kitchings passed away at her home in Waterford, Connecticut, surrounded by family and devoted friends.
Her dedication and commitment to children in southeastern Connecticut, and her long standing volunteer involvement were her trademarks. Mrs. Kitchings was a New London auxiliary member for over 50 years, helping with the sale and the many various auxiliary events, especially the early Foster Mother teas. She was the 2003 Child and Family Agency Volunteer of the Year. Margaret served as President and worked with The New London Day Nursery, where she provided both leadership and delicious Thanksgiving Day dinners for the children and staff. Margaret was an incredibly generous woman whose care and enduring love for children, especially those at the New London Day Nursery, is one of the foundations of Child and Family Agency.
Margaret was born in Uncasville, Connecticut, the second daughter of Margaret Davis White and Ralph Howe. Her early childhood was spent living in Norwich, surrounded by family generations. Her summers were spent at Eastern Point in the family cottage in Groton. There Margaret developed her great love for the Connecticut shore – swimming, sailing, rowing and fishing.
Margaret attended Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, and was about to continue her studies when she met Chester Kitchings. They were married in 1940 in Waterford. The Second World War was upon them. Chester was a naval flight instructor, and they proceeded to live in Florida, Kansas and Tennessee. At the end of the War they settled in New London, Connecticut. Margaret and Chester had five children: Chester, Margaret, Patricia, Charles and Kenneth.
Margaret volunteered at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, heading up the Women’s Auxiliary and starting the Lobby Shop. She also helped at the New London Day Nursery, and volunteered with Child and Family Agency in New London. Her passion for gardening led to her joining the New London Garden Club, helping with community gardens and projects at the Shaw Mansion, Hempstead House and the Lyman Allyn Museum.
In the 1950s, Margaret and Chester moved to Waterford. Their home there overlooking Long Island Sound became Margaret’s lifelong devotion. She loved the woods and the gardens, restoring perennial beds, creating rose beds and embellishing a beautiful old quarry rock garden. She cultivated plants in her greenhouse and grew all her vegetables. She took great joy and pride in her home, welcoming friends, nature lovers and fellow gardeners to enjoy the property.
Margaret and her husband Chester created the Kitchings Foundation, which has given generously to many organizations in Southeastern Connecticut, starting with Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and then expanding to education and to cultural and environmental causes.