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Oh My, Maureen

These are not stories, these are actual obituaries. These are some of the richest history lessons and unprecedented learning experiences, you will ever uncover.

The following is a story, excuse me, obituary, written by two incredibly talented daughters, who were by their mother side at the end.

Meagan McGovern, one of the two of the two daughters posted the following to Facebook. It reads as follows....

"My mother died four years ago. This was the very raw, probably way-too-honest obituary I wrote with my sister at the time.
I don’t miss the chaos, even a little bit. It’s been very peaceful.
The interesting thing is that less than a year after this, two of my siblings turned up. Tim and David. And yes, I’ve told them the story of their mother, for better or worse.
This is the basis for the book I’m editing, now that I have a little perspective. Anyone know a literary agent looking for a good memoir?
For what it's worth: We went with "Forever Wild" on her headstone. It's the motto of the Adirondacks, and seems to fit."


Maureen McGovern died August 13, 2017.

Maureen Alice Smith was born July 2, 1938, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the eldest child of Bernard Smith and Eva Golembesky, who doted on her. She and her three younger siblings were raised on Staten Island.

Her parents were from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, and she spent summers picking wild blueberries and taking baths in a big iron tub in her grandmother’s living room.

She was raised on Staten Island, attended St. Mary’s of the Assumption and St. Peter’s Girls High School, and her family went to Sacred Heart Church.

When she was in high school, she had the first baby that she gave up for adoption, after being sent away to a home for unwed mothers run by nuns. Her first son was named Christopher.

Maureen went to Hunter College, and Wagner, and a college in San Francisco. She did not graduate from any of them.

She was, according to her friends, “stunningly beautiful,” brilliant, witty, and the kind of friend you keep for life. She counted Barbara Taylor, Paul Zindel and Vincent Romeo among her best friends.

She was a writer for Women’s Wear Daily and worked with Clementine Paddleford at the New York Herald Tribune. She interviewed celebrities ranging from John Gielgud and Rex Harrison to the Beatles, and took her younger sister Nora to a press conference and a Beatles concert at Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965.

She had an apartment at 2 Jane Street in Greenwich Village and had parties that people still tell stories about — one alleges that the captain of a Navy ship turned up to look for members of his crew after they’d been missing for two days, and found one of them behind the sofa, asleep.

As with most of Maureen’s stories, there’s no way of knowing how far the truth was stretched.

She also had two more babies, a daughter she named Ann Margaret, and a son named David, both given up for adoption. One had a father who Maureen said was nicknamed “Mr. Irresponsible,” and the other was a man she met on a beach the day Marilyn Monroe died.

Years later, she wanted to connect with the children she gave up, but the records were sealed.

At some point in the late 1960s, Maureen Smith met Donald McGovern at either the Lion’s Head or the 55 on Christopher Street.

Don was married with a small son, but from that point on, Maureen and Don were linked, and many lives were changed.

Maureen and Don ran a bar together in the East Village called the Corner Bistro. It was owned by the mafia, and Maureen and Don helped run a credit card fraud scheme on diners there. Don was not a good fit for the mafia, and in 1968, after he was stabbed in the kidneys, the couple drove to California, leaving behind Don’s wife and son, and their families.

Don and Maureen had four girls in six years, finally marrying in 1975, when the youngest was six weeks old. They settled into a “normal” life for about ten years and had a farm in the California desert near Littlerock, while Don worked for KTTV and pursued an acting career. When her girls were little, Maureen was a loving, involved mother and baked cookies, taught her daughters to cook, took them to museums and parks and on road trips, sang songs in the car and told stories about the “olden days” in the Adirondacks. She sang Christmas carols and sang along to Willie Nelson and Marvin Gaye.

When Don left her in 1980, Maureen packed up the girls and went into a whirlwind of chaos that never really stopped until her death.

She seemed to give up all pretense at “law-abiding” and “normal,” and from that point on, did as she pleased.

She moved to Lake Luzerne, New York, for three months, before burning down the house for the insurance check. Then Houston, followed by four or five houses in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Then Medford and Jacksonville, Oregon, back to California, and back to New York. All four of her girls were along for the ride.

Along the way, she took in children who had no place to go, fed countless teenagers, offered her home to anyone who needed a place to stay, championed liberal causes and ideas, read voraciously and made certain that no one she knew would ever vote for a Republican.

Her girls knew they had always had the coolest mom and the coolest house in the neighborhood, and that if anyone was hungry or bored, their house was the place to be.

There was a brief period of two years, from 1984-1986, where Maureen had some money and some peace after she won $58,000 as a champion on a game show called “Sale of the Century.” It was a game of trivia and knowledge, and this was her forte.

She went on to become a grand champion and competed in Australia, where she swindled the other competitors out of their wallets and ran from the police for six weeks, with two of her children in tow.

Between 1980 and 2010, Maureen was arrested in London, Paris, Vermont, Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Florida, California and New York. She talked her way out of most jail time, but did serve time in both federal and local prisons, where she painted pictures of flowers, sent letters to her children, complained about the food and the guards, and showed no remorse — in fact, she considered that stealing from insurance companies and defrauding people and writing bad checks was really a victimless crime — “It’s just money,” she’d say. “It’s not like I’m hurting anyone.”

She wrecked cars for the insurance money, stole things out of purses, ran a credit card scheme involving houses for sale, had an episode filmed about her for “America’s Most Wanted” that was never aired, went in and out of mental hospitals, and finally found a few years of peace when she remarried Don in 2004. He’d had a Russian mail-order bride by then, and Maureen had to throw the live-in girlfriend out of the house, but she and Don managed to have a few years together in a cabin in Conway, Arkansas, writing bad checks, watching TV, and growing tomatoes. When Don died in 2014, Maureen was again untethered and unmoored.

She spent the last three years of her life running, from Arkansas to San Diego and back, and finally, on August 13, 2017, has found some sort of peace, according to the priest who performed Last Rites.

Here’s hoping.

Maureen will be remembered for her sharp, biting wit, a love of good food, good writing and great conversation, a comprehensive knowledge of British mystery novels, a stunning ability to cook great meals with no money and no ingredients, a flair for witty comebacks, a love for her children that she was unable to translate into protection or a home for them, an absolutely unmatched ability to manipulate any system, a mean streak that could cut to the bone, a penchant for “nerve pills,” and with a deep sadness that this brilliant, vibrant woman was never unable to rise above the demons that controlled her.

Maureen said that her philosophy of life is “a little to the left of ‘Whooohooo!,’” her theme song is “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction,” and that she wants the words “She wept” on her headstone, with a weeping willow.

At the end, two of her daughters were by her bedside, and she was not alone when she passed.


Hope you enjoyed traveling through Maureen's life.


Meagan and her sister decided "Forever Wild" Would be appropriate for their mothers headstone. Maureen's final resting places, Bentonville, Arkansas.

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