Obituary: Margaret Atkins Reilly Gannaway, 1967-2023 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Margaret Atkins Reilly Gannaway, 1967-2023

Leader in the field of children’s mental health never lost her sense of wonder and hope for a better world

Published September 5, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated September 5, 2023 at 11:32 a.m.


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Margaret Atkins Reilly Gannaway - COURTESY
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  • Margaret Atkins Reilly Gannaway

Margaret “Maggie” Atkins Reilly Gannaway, loving mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and ardent connoisseur of Swedish meatballs, moved forward from this life on August 14, 2023. After seven years of staying ahead of colon cancer, as it caught up, Maggie passed away peacefully at home with family and close friends sharing their love for her. In true Maggie fashion, with courage, grace and a bit of humor, she determined how and when she would begin this next journey.

Maggie was the first of three children born in Massachusetts to Bodil and Kenneth Atkins. Raised in Littleton, Maggie was nurtured by her family, their church and the tight-knit community, influences that helped shape the loving person she was.

Margaret Atkins Reilly Gannaway - COURTESY
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  • Margaret Atkins Reilly Gannaway
After high school, Maggie left Littleton for the University of Vermont, where she fell in love with the university and Vermont. Making lifelong friends, Maggie continued at UVM to get a master’s degree in social work.

A leader in the field of children’s mental health, she influenced the lives of countless youths, families and colleagues throughout the state and beyond over the course of her 35-year career, working at the Northeastern Family Institute, the Department of Mental Health, Casey Family Services, Howard Center and Otter Creek Associates. Often starting her work as a case manager and leaving as the director, Maggie worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others. Always an advocate for children, she never lost her sense of wonder and hope for a better world and committed herself to that purpose in every aspect of her life.
Margaret Atkins Reilly Gannaway - COURTESY
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  • Margaret Atkins Reilly Gannaway
With all that she achieved in her career, Maggie would tell you that her greatest joy and accomplishment came when she and first husband Tom Reilly became parents to their daughter, Maya. It is not surprising that Maggie — an intelligent, compassionate and fiercely resilient woman, inspired by her mother, Bodil — raised a daughter with these same qualities.

For 20 years, Jim Gannaway — friend, partner and husband in all that was Maggie’s life — never failed to be in awe of her strength, intelligence, beauty and humanity. He and all who were lucky enough to know Maggie will forever cherish the memory of her welcoming smile, sparkling eyes, infectious laugh and warm hugs.

Because of the extraordinary medical expertise and care of Dr. Steve Ades, nurse practitioner Janet Ely and their oncology team, Maggie and those who loved her were blessed with seven wonderful years after a terminal diagnosis. Surgeons Dr. Carlos Marroquin and Dr. Jesse Moore were also critical in keeping Maggie with us. These individuals were more than just Maggie’s medical team; they were a source of hope and comfort, and we will be eternally grateful for their exceptional care and compassion. For the last few weeks of Maggie’s life, UVM Health Home & Hospice professionals, Sandra and Ezra, provided all that was necessary for her comfort at home as well as much-appreciated support for Maggie’s family.

Maggie’s treasured circle includes daughter Maya; husband Jim; mother Bodil; father Kenneth; sister Karen Atkins; niece Kirsten Atkins; brother Erik Atkins, his wife, Jessica, and their children, Samantha and Nick; Jim’s daughters, Kerry and her partner, Kevin, their children, Kaia, Kinley and Kaleb; Amanda and her husband, Seamus, and their children, Colm and Eamon; Tess and her husband, Brian; and friends Maria Sylvester, her husband, Jake, and children, Liam and Nolan (Maggie’s unofficial grandsons); Susanne Schmidt; and Eileen Babbitz, her husband, David, and their children, Zac and Hannah.

A celebration of Maggie’s life will take place at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, 77 Sunset View Rd., South Hero, Vt., on Sunday, September 24, 1 p.m. As Maggie would want, ALL are welcome.

If donations are your tradition, it was Maggie’s wish that donations be made to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, PO Box 459, South Hero, VT 05486.

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