Mary-Margaret Almonte

Mary-Margaret Almonte, at 53; devoted mother; innovative, award-winning educator; philanthropist; artist/photographer After a long and courageous fight with cancer, Mary-Margaret (Batanian) Almonte passed away on May 12, 2015 at the Kaplan House Hospice in Danvers, Massachusetts. From Cape Ann to Salem to Marblehead to Stoneham to Malden, her personal and professional life broadened over the years of her adult life until it embraced a large and diverse group of friends, associates, and family. Mary-Margaret was spirited, ambitious, and energetic—everyone in her orbit admired and benefited from her creativity and her loving heart. She had gorgeous green eyes and dressed and accessorized (what shoes! what earrings! later, during chemotherapy, what scarves!) with colorful exuberance and flair. She was bold and dependable, with a bright laugh and an eager curiosity. Her small Malden apartment, which she shared with her beloved younger son Elisha, was decorated in framed photographs of places and people she loved and inspirational quotes, including favorite Biblical verses. She was a marvel of beauty, grit, generosity, courage, faith, and perseverance. Born in Toledo, Ohio on February 19, 1962, she came from a large family of many siblings—she was the third child. She was proud of her Armenian heritage and mastered a traditional recipe of stuffed grape leaves that she shared with large gatherings of her own family and with others. Majoring in painting and design, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Later, on the East Coast, she earned a Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language from Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. She was currently enrolled in the Master of Mental Health Counseling at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. She was employed by Malden Public Schools as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. Her present position was English Language Learner Curriculum Specialist. In these positions, she touched and enriched the lives of many students of many nationalities and cultures. In 2011, Mary-Margaret received the Linda Schulman Innovation Award for her work in promoting literacy through family and community connections. In 2012, Mary-Margaret was honored as “Teacher of the Year” by the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL) organization. She brought a high level of integrity, innovation, vigor and creativity to her work; she was deeply respected by her students, colleagues and administrators. Mary-Margaret was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She was treated primarily by Dr. Carolyn Krasner at Mass General Hospital. In addition to episodes of chemotherapy, she participated in a trial drug program; it prolonged her life—and her data as well as written testimony to the FDA will help Dr. Krasner and others treat ovarian cancer and save lives in the future. Throughout her struggle, Mary-Margaret met, bonded with, and encouraged other cancer patients. She began to notice that many were struggling to afford needed medications and supplies; this led to her creating the nonprofit fundraising foundation Healing Hope. Healing Hope donated pharmacy and food-store gift cards to cancer patients struggling with the limits of health insurance. She put this favorite quote of hers on the Healing Hope materials: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness, He will bring forth justice…” (Isaiah 42:3) With her passing, her sister Cathy Reichow will take the reins and continue Healing Hope fundraising in Mary-Margaret’s memory. Donations will be managed by her church (see below). She also blogged for friends, family, colleagues, and her church community, candidly sharing information and anecdotes with sharp intelligence and humor. Her greatest hope was that Jesus would save her from cancer either temporarily through healing or eternally through death and new life. In His mercy, God has delivered her once and for all. She is survived by her two sons, Jamie Fisher (whom she always called her “mensch”) and Elisha Almonte. She was a nurturing mother who taught her children responsibility, perseverance, integrity and determination. She was also a lot of fun, taking them on various adventures from downhill snow tubing to Disney World and Florida beaches. Over the years there were also many trips to Ohio and the Pacific Northwest to visit family, for holidays and in the summer months. She relished “Family Camp” in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, where she tried horseback riding and ziplines. (Of the latter, she declared, “Afraid of a zipline? Not after a cancer diagnosis, a zipline doesn’t scare me!”) She took and framed lots of pictures from these various trips—her sons have an ample photographic record of everything they enjoyed together. Their mother’s passionate devotion was a precious gift to both of them. Mary-Margaret is also survived by her parents, Floyd and MaryLou Batanian, and siblings Cathy (husband Dan), Jeff (wife Laurie), Suzanne (husband Anel), Matthew (husband Mike), Tim (wife Laura), Jonathan (wife Laura), and sister-in-law Patricia (husband Giovanni), as well as many nieces and nephews and four great-nieces and nephews. She is also survived by dear friends Kathleen Kearns, Teri Chace and Marlane Codair. Heartfelt thanks to the Oncology Department at MGH, especially Dr. Carolyn Krasner and nurse Laura Sullivan; and Mary-Margaret’s friends, students and colleagues at Malden Public Schools—especially her Beebe School family, who provided meals, transportation to and from MGH, and care for her and Elisha while she was in and out of treatment. The family also wishes to recognize the support and care from Susan Vatalaro, Paul Teixeira, Jennifer McCabe and Andrea Ribiero. Special thanks to Pastors Anders and Christina Eliason from Freedom Hill Community Church in Malden. Thanks, too, to the staff of Kaplan House Hospice in Danvers, especially the nurses Dan and Jeannette; she felt no pain under their excellent care. “Celebration of Life” memorial services will be held at Freedom Hill Community Church in Malden, Massachusetts on Saturday, May 16 at 1 pm, and at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Oregon, Ohio at a date to be announced later. Burial arrangements will be private; to express written condolences, please visit In lieu of flowers, per her wishes, tax-deductible donations to Healing Hope will be gratefully accepted and used to help other cancer patients. Please write checks to Freedom Hill Community Church, write “Healing Hope donation” on the memo line and mail to 77 Kennedy Dr., Malden, MA 02148.      


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28 Condolences

  1. lynne santos on May 14, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    There are no words for the amazing work you did on earth. I am sure there is truth in only the good die young that maybe that you fullex the needs of God so he took you home.
    I know this I’d not good bye but we will see you again in the glory of God forever and ever.
    With much feeling my condolences to the entire family she left to young but she is providing a mission that will last infinity.

  2. Stephanie Sciortino on May 14, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    MM’s legacy will surely live on. It was always a humbling experience when talking with her. She had a knack for asking how the other person was doing and was truly interested in the answer and ready to offer advice or comfort or understanding. Until we meet again..

  3. Susan Cecil on May 14, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Since the moment we met at a convention Mary – Margaret and I became good friends. I know I will see her again in heaven. Blessed to have known her.

  4. Marianne Dushinski on May 14, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    My deepest condolences to the family. Mary Margaret was a wonderful teacher, mentor, and friend. She will be missed by many. You will remain in my prayers. God bless you all.

  5. Maria Valles on May 15, 2015 at 12:15 am

    I’m sure the Lord is saying “Well done my good and faithful servant.” There are no words, other than being thankful that we had the honor of knowing Mary Margaret. She touched my Iliana’s heart and showed me courage in ways that can’t be expressed.

  6. Lorraine Goggin on May 15, 2015 at 12:33 am

    It has been an honor and privilege to know Mary Margaret! Praying for the family at this time! We will meet again in the Sweet Bye and BYE!

  7. Liz Lynaugh on May 15, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Dearest Mary-Margaret, your beautiful face and spirit will live on in all the people you touched and in your loving family. My prayers of peace and love are with your family and friends at this difficult time. Liz

  8. Suzanne Tynemouth on May 15, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    God Bless you Mary-Margaret as you have blessed us.

  9. Dana Brown on May 15, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    When a Malden High School student was diagnosed with cancer last year one of the first adults to step forward with prayers, kind words, and offers of support was Mary-Margaret. Her selflessness was apparent the first time I met her. Her work with our staff and students was inspirational. Her demeanor was always calm, her passion for her profession, evident. She was a believer and a woman of great faith. We shall see her again.

  10. Margaret Adams on May 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Mary Margaret left her mark on many children and adults. I am so honored and humbled that I was one of those who was blessed to have her learned from her wonderful spirit. She taught me to celebrate life and enjoy with earnest and passion everyday of our work with the community and families. She also shared how the power of creative voice can open the lines of communication among cultures and open academic doors for our children. I can feel your presence among us still in our drive to continue your work.

  11. Elizabeth Murray on May 15, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    We are from the Rainbow Day School part of Mary-Margaret’s life. Our son Christopher was in Mary-Margaret and Debbie Benson’s toddler group so long ago. Mary-Margaret had a special light that shone through even at 7:30 am in rocky oceany Pigeon Cove when I dropped off Chris for the day. It seems that the light continued on in Malden and other places. So sorry to see her gone so early. Condolences to her family.

  12. Rich Bransfield on May 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I had the great pleasure of working with Mary-Margaret and shared with her the “cancer journey”.. she was one of the most positive, up-lifting individuals I know. Her constant “fight with a smile” infectious attitude towards life and her interactions with children will be missed. Thankfully her legacy will live on!

  13. Carolyn Corvi-DiSalvatore on May 15, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Mary-Margaret’s indomitable and generous spirit will live on. You will be missed terribly by friends, fellow yogis and family. Thoughts and well wishes to your family.

  14. will newman on May 15, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    what a great leader she was. i had the opportunity to be in her life group.
    a great women of faith.
    The thought of knowing that our loved ones are in the presence of the savior can be of some comfort, especially when we have the confidence that our savior resides in us.

  15. Susan Batanian Dolan on May 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I am so very sorry to hear about my cousin Mary Margaret’s passing. I extend my deepest sympathy and prayers to the entire family.
    I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers.
    Love, Susan

  16. Eun Han on May 15, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I was fortunate to work with Mary Margaret last year. Although time has passed since we last spoke, I can still remember her exuberance and faithfulness. I miss her and her spirit. My deep condolences to her loving family.

  17. Karry Johnston on May 15, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I is amazing the ripples some people make even in a life that seems to be cut short. I value the time I had with Mary-Margaret. Such a warm welcoming person. As I look for pictures of her. I have so few but there are so many she took for me. What a gift her friendship has been.
    Love to all who share in the loss of such a dear friend. She is with the Lord.
    Karry Johnston

  18. Anne Consoletti Schultz on May 15, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    I am so grateful to have shared both personally and professionally with Mary-Margaret.
    Peace to her, her sons and family, and all who will miss her.

  19. Laurie Fisher Lewis on May 15, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Mary-Margaret was a great sister-in-law and friend. We shared our love of photography. We had many wonderful times together with Jamie and my two sons years ago. My sincere condolences to the entire family.

  20. Wendy Hyatt on May 16, 2015 at 12:03 am

    I was so sorry to hear about Mary Margaret. She was a special friend and teacher at my pre-school/daycare in Rockport. I will always remember her smile and joy she offered. I thank God that she is at peace with Him.

  21. Eileen Horne on May 16, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    I am Teri Chace’s younger sister and I had the good fortune to meet MM a few times over the years – always with joyous hugs and great laughter. I was so moved to read this amazing tribute – she really was and is a remarkable example to us all. The British say if life gives you lemons, make lemonade, something I try to live by – and boy did MM make gallons of it! Wow. I remain in awe and I know her passing leaves a great hole in my sister’s life. I hope her little boy always knows what a great force for love she was. Leenie

  22. Rebecca Playford on May 16, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with such a beautiful soul. Sending an abundance of love to MM and everyone that she touched throughout her life.

  23. Dulce Nearis on May 16, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Mary Margaret was my dear friend that I will always love. We shared many happy years together in Gloucester. She is resting in peace peace now! She will be greatly missed by many.

  24. Suzanne Fine on May 28, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    I did not know “MM” very well, but I did spend some time with her when I visited my good friend, Teri Chase, in Cape Ann, MA back in the mid-late 80’s. I remember the way Mary-Margaret listened to me when I spoke. She gave of her whole self and it was so intense sometimes I didn’t want to look back at those beautiful green eyes because it made me feel a little nervous. She was so focused on me and I didn’t feel I deserved the attention. I am so sad that “MM” is no longer with us and I send everyone in her family my deepest condolences. I am also happy I got to meet Mary-Margaret and spend a little time with her. I will try to really listen to people when they speak and pass on what she taught me: we are all deserving of attention.

  25. Ed & Aastrig Tutelian on July 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    We never met Mary-Margaret, yet we feel deeply saddened for her dear parents, Floyd and Mary Lou Batanian. The loss of a child must be devastating. Our heartfelt condolences to them, and all the loved ones she left behind by her untimely demise. May her whole family feel God’s loving presence especially close at this difficult time.
    With our sincere sympathies,
    Ed & Astrig

  26. Nancy Harshman on July 18, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Dear Mary Lou, Floyd and Family,
    You are in the hearts of many today as you celebrate the vibrant, beautiful life of your daughter, sister, mother. Held in the immense circle of love that Mary Margaret and all of you have created.
    You are in my heart and prayer.

  27. Cynthia Kill Doris on November 30, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Mary Margaret was my best friend in 3rd and 4th grade before we were transferred out of Toledo. She had a joy that wrapped you up in it. I loved being at her family home. Apparently our paths almost crossed as I ended up one CT while she was in MA (information I got from her mother when attempting to reconnect during a difficult time for her). Today I googled her after seeing an article about a priest that had been to our home often; I wanted to make sure she wasn’t a victim.

    The search brought up an article that lead with her beautiful eyes- I would know them anywhere. The sadness I feel in her death is sitting next to the awe I feel when seeing her commitment to her faith and love of others.
    You’ve been in my heart a long time … basketball and football with the boys at recess, walks to the Igloo, the book The Secret Language. Always treasured.

  28. Didier Registre on December 12, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    My all time favorite teacher ever. Ms. almonte pushed me to be the best student i ever was and all over her classroom she had the quote “you’re never done, you’ve just begun” posted and that’s a phrase I will carry with me forever. She was truly an angel in all of our lives.

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