Jacqueline Murphy Duff


Jacqueline Murphy Duff, (formerly Jacqueline Murphy Jermain), died peacefully on February 16 at the Kaplan House in Danvers.  She was 93 years old.  

Jackie grew up in Lexington, MA and graduated from Skidmore College in 1949 as a Graphic Arts major.  She met her first husband, Robert Jermain, while sharing a ride with friends from Massachusetts to upstate NY.  She and Bob were married in 1950.  Following Bob’s career path, they lived in NJ, then Manchester, then back to NJ and finally settling back in Manchester in the late 1950’s.  With each move, another son was born, such that by 1962, she and Bob had four sons, John, David, Paul and Timothy.  She lived in Manchester for the next 59 years, on School Street, Vine Street, Washington Street and then Tappan Street.

Although her academic training was in the arts, she loved the written word.  Whether reading to her young sons on “reading night”, taking writing classes with Jeremiah Murphy or participating in the Library’s book club, the written word played an important part in her life.    Until the last week of her life, she would read 4-5 hours per day, falling behind on her New Yorker magazines to finish a novel, then getting current on the New Yorkers, before starting her next novel.

Raising children and living in Manchester, led to many summer mornings on the beach, watching adventurous sons with one eye and reading a good book with the other. 

Before television became commonplace, Manchester enjoyed adult community theater, performed by the townspeople.   Jackie wrote two plays, which were performed in town.   

Jackie loved to experience other cultures and travelled widely, first with her friends Roxy Johnson, then Elsa Martz and then with her second husband, Tom Duff.  She recently observed, that the authenticity of travel had been replaced by the authenticity of a well written book, her most recent means of travel.

Until she joined the Strong Woman classes in the Community Center in her late 70’s, she was no fan of exercise or sports, but she really enjoyed the camaraderie of the Strong Woman group and the benefits of exercise in her 70’s and 80’s.

Many Manchester High graduates know her as the person who worked with them to set up their SCORE, senior projects, matching business owners and professionals with seniors interested in that field, from the early 1970’s through the 1990’s.  She also managed the adult learning evening class programs and worked for the school committee. 

Up until two days before she died, she enjoyed playing cribbage with her sons, (recently racking up a 10-game winning streak), sipping her burgundy wine and winning more than her share of those games.   

Most of all, Jackie was a devoted mother who wanted the best for her four boys and embodied what “unconditional love” looks like.  Whether it was taking an injured son to the hospital, making an angel food birthday cake or supporting the choices her sons made, she put their needs first. 

Dressed each day, with a skirt, blouse, earrings and nylons, she considered herself very blessed, to be able to age at home until her last day, surrounded by her sons and in the company of her cat Cleo. 

Jackie is survived by her son John and his partner Joan Miley of Seattle, son David of Gloucester and his partner Martha Pacetti, son Paul of Manchester, son Timothy and his wife Colleen of Newport, RI and three grandsons, Aaron Ocean and his wife Alli, Colin Jermain and his wife Pamela and Nathaniel Jermain. 

A celebration service will be planned for later this spring or summer.

larry duff, duff, aaron ocean, jeremiah murphy, elsa martz, nathaniel jermain, colin jermain, joan miley, jacqueline murphy jermain, robert jermain, martha pacetti, tom duff, roxy johnson, jacqueline murphy duff jacqueline murphy duff, pamela jermain