Faith Wallace Gowen Magoun, formerly of Manchester-by-the-Sea and Gloucester, died peacefully Thursday, June 2, at Meadow Lakes in East Windsor, N.J. She was 86. Born in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., Faith was a graduate of St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Va., and Class of 1952 at Radcliffe College in Cambridge.
Two years after meeting on a blind date, Faith married Francis P. Magoun III in 1951. They moved to to Manchester in 1961. Of their four sons, Francis P. Magoun IV, of Spring, Texas, died in 2015. John F. G. Magoun of Stamford, Conn., Alexander B. Magoun of Princeton, N.J., and Benjamin MacGowen of Naples, Fla., survive her, as do eight of nine grandchildren.
In the 1960s, Faith served as a Cub Scout den mother, school volunteer, and guide for the hobbies and follies of her sons. As they matured, she sought outlets for her lifelong interests in horticulture and history. Aspiring to a master's degree in botany, she took night courses at Harvard, finding after 10 years that part-time students were still ineligible for graduate degrees. From 1972 to 1976, Faith directed programming for the Audubon Society's Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. For nine years, as director of the Lynn Historical Society, she updated the organization's management and curatorial practices and introduced history classes for Lynn's children. The result was new life and members for the society on Green Street, where Faith co-founded an association to help revive the neighborhood.
At the same time, Faith cultivated her celebrated alpine rock garden which started when she found that Spy Rock Hill's granite is a poor setting for traditional flower beds. She became a president of the New England Rock Garden Society, the North Shore Garden Club, and the Manchester Friends of Trees, and led numerous award-winning exhibits in the New England Spring Flower Show. Over the years she educated many novices in the art and science of cultivation and competitive exhibition. The Garden Club of America honored her work with the Zone I Dorothy Wheatland Horticulture Award in 1994.
When Frank retired in 1992, he and Faith traveled to the Canadian Maritimes and the western U.S., combining his love of fly fishing with hers of botanic collecting. Faith journeyed as well to four continents in search of alpine plants, which she reported in informative, witty articles and slide shows to her fellow gardeners. Faith moved to Gloucester after Frank died in 1999. There she protected her prolific patio garden from seagulls, and traveled throughout New England as a Garden Club of America horticulture judge. She was also active in the Unitarian Universalist Church, co-chaired her Radcliffe 50th reunion, and took her grandchildren abroad as they came of age.
Faith was a woman of lively intelligence, gracious charm, and unconventional wit and taste. She enjoyed good conversation about whatever was new, be it Iron Chef, American Girl dolls, or Martin Scorses movies. She loved reading, cooking, museums, theater, movies, and being with friends and family while exploring life's paths and byways as they appeared.
Her family will hold a memorial service at 10 Church Street, Gloucester, at 4:30 p.m. on July 9. Donations in her memory may be made to the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, 10 Church Street, Gloucester, MA 01930, or the Trustees of Reservations, 572 Essex Street, Beverly, MA 01915.
Published on  June 21, 2016