Former Canterbury Shaker Village Resident Dies at 98

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Alberta MacMillan Kirkpatrick at age 12 when she arrived in Canterbury.

Celebration of life to be held October 16 in the Village Chapel

CANTERBURY: Alberta MacMillan Kirkpatrick, who came to live at Canterbury Shaker Village as a child, passed away on Sept. 14, 2016, at the age of 98.

Anyone wishing to celebrate Alberta’s life is invited to attend a gathering on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 11 a.m. in the Chapel at Canterbury Shaker Village, 288 Shaker Road in Canterbury.

Alberta arrived at Canterbury Shaker Village in December 1929 at the age of 11. For the previous four years, she had lived with relatives following the death of her mother; her father was unable to cope with four young children and sent them all to foster homes.

Although the Sisters at Canterbury had officially decided not to accept any more children into their care, Sister Marguerite Frost longed to help another girl and made that her only wished-for Christmas gift in 1929. On December 29, she welcomed a timid Alberta with a hug and assurances that Alberta would be “her girl.” Alberta has said that this was the first hug she received since her mother died.

During the seven years that Alberta lived at the Village, she grew into the beautiful, cheerful, and gracious woman we were fortunate to know. She completed high school studies with Sister Marguerite as her teacher, became an accomplished cook, and had fun with the other girls living at the Village.

Alberta took the lead steering the toboggan in the winter and loved to run in the wide open spaces at the Village. She acted in the theatricals and learned to play the violin. Alberta often said that all the goodness in her character came from living with the Sisters. Most important to her was her relationship with her “Shaker Mother” Sister Marguerite. Until Sister Marguerite’s passing in 1971, Alberta tried to visit her every May to bring a treat for Sister Marguerite’s birthday.

When Alberta was 18 and her cousins urged her to leave the Village, Sister Marguerite told her that although she would miss her very much, “Birdie” as she fondly called her, should fly away. Sister Marguerite wanted her to enjoy a family of her own and not be the caregiver for aging Sisters.

Alberta left, married, and had a daughter. When her marriage ended, she worked hard to support herself and her daughter. One of Alberta’s friends from her time at the Village eventually introduced Alberta to Frank Kirkpatrick. They married when Alberta was 50 years old, after he waited twenty-three years for her to say yes to his proposals. Alberta enjoyed fifteen happy years with Franny living in Duxbury, Mass., until his passing.

Alberta volunteered and then worked at the senior center in Duxbury. She drove the bus to take senior groups to places of interest, always including the Village. She also led group tours to Europe so that she could travel and learn about the world. In 1999, documentary film maker Amy Stechler interviewed Alberta at the Village and made a gift of the video to the Village.

Shortly after that, Alberta moved to western Pennsylvania where her daughter lives and enjoyed her new home there until 2014 when she moved to an assisted living residence at the age of 96.

Alberta always loved Canterbury Shaker Village and visited many times. In 2008, she celebrated her 90th birthday with a party and cake shared with all the visitors there that day. This event was reported in many places around the globe. Alberta spoke to organizations about Canterbury Shaker Village and always forwarded any honorarium to the Village. In 2004, the Board of the Village asked her to be an Honorary Trustee and she accepted happily.

Alberta hoped to live to be 106, like a dear aunt of hers. Although she did not reach that goal, she enjoyed 98 years and brought happiness to many people. She is survived by her daughter Marcy O’Brien, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

About Canterbury Shaker Village

Canterbury Shaker Village is dedicated to preserving the 200-year Shaker legacy of innovative design, entrepreneurship and simple living by providing a place for learning, reflection, and renewal of the human spirit.

Visitors are encouraged to rethink tradition by learning about the life, ideals, values, and history of the Canterbury Shakers. The National Historic Landmark includes 25 restored original and four reconstructed Shaker buildings, and 694 acres of forests, fields, gardens, nature trails, and mill ponds under permanent conservation easement.

The Village cafe offers simple lunch fare and the Museum Store features unique gifts and wares handmade by regional artisans. Canterbury Shaker Village, located at 288 Shaker Road in Canterbury, New Hampshire, will be open daily in 2016 from May 14-October 21 and weekends between October 22 and November 27. For more information, visit


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