Mrs. Virginia G. (Goss) Atwood, 100, died in her Saugus home on the morning of Tuesday, June 9, 2020. She was the daughter of Dorothy G. (Stillman) Buffum (1896-1983) of Salem and Roy H. Goss (1888-1918) of Champaign, IL, although DNA testing has proven Herbert J. Baker (1898-1971) of Lynn to have been her actual birth father.
She is perhaps best remembered as serving the Town of Saugus in the capacity of Public Health Nurse from 1975 until her retirement in 1990, after which she continued to offer her assistance to the town for many years. She also served as a Saugus school nurse and in hospitals throughout the greater Boston area and was equally instrumental in the implementation of Saugus' annual Flu Clinic, which is still active today.
Upon turning 100, she proudly received numerous notices and citations acknowledging her service to the Town of Saugus from the town's Board of Selectmen and Town Manager, as well as a special congratulatory letter from the President of the United States. But it was the surprise 100th birthday parties and visits from all of her friends and relatives that meant the most to her.
She was born in Lynn on December 10, 1919, in the former home of Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science - the very building in which Mrs. Eddy founded her church and authored the central text of Christian Science, Science and Health. In fact, it often amused Mrs. Atwood to know that “they turned [her] birthplace into a museum!”
At the age of five, following the death of her grandfather, she was sent to live in Salem's Orphanage of the Seamen’s Orphans & Children’s Friend Society, or the Carpenter Street Children's Home, where she remained until her high school years. She always spoke highly and fondly of her fellow residents and the staff at “the home.”
After graduating from Roxbury Memorial High School for Girls in 1937, she attended nursing school in Boston, eventually serving at all of Boston's major hospitals. It was during her time as a student nurse that she met and later married her husband of 46 years, Wilbur J. Atwood of East Boston, who preceded her in death in January 1989.
She spent several years during World War II living in the Panama Canal Zone, where her husband was employed by the US Government as a machinist. Upon their return to the US, they eventually purchased a home in Saugus, where they both lived for the remainder of their lives. She was an active member of Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in Saugus and a longtime volunteer at the Saugus Senior Center until recent years.
She is survived by a son, Mr. Donald L. (Rita) Atwood of Lansdale, PA; a daughter, Mrs. Linda A. (Jon) Atwood-Harvey of Montezuma, IN; two grandsons, Scott E. (Kristalyn) Atwood of Fort Myers Beach, FL and Brian S. (Kelley) Atwood of Easton, PA; and four great-grandchildren, Caroline, Laura, Nicole, and William Atwood.
Although no funeral events were held due to the effects of COVID-19 and the state-ordered shutdowns, a Celebration of Life Memorial will take place in the near future. She is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery Mausoleum in Malden.
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