Published DatePOTOMOC FALLS, Virginia — Myrtle Clement McIntyre died Jan. 13 at age 95 at the Johnson Center of Falcon's Landing Retirement Center in Potomac Falls, VA. She was the widow of U.S. Senator Thomas J. McIntyre, who died in 1992. They were married for 51 years. McIntyre was in failing health following a recent fall and emergency hip surgery.
Survivors include a daughter, Martha Grey McIntyre of Gilford; a grandson, Samuel McIntyre-Sonneborn of San Rafael, CA; two sisters, Eileen Clement Novicki and Irene Clement Richardson of the Tequesta, FL area.
She was predeceased by her sister Kathleen Clement Williams; two brothers, Norman and Ralph Clement; and, two half-siblings, Frank Riley and Gladys Grad.
Born June 7, 1917 in Wakefield, NH to Ralph and Catherine Hanagan Clement, she was educated in Laconia-area public schools and went to work before graduation. On May 3, 1941 she married Thomas McIntyre. The future senator soon became a decorated World War II Army veteran and was elected mayor of Laconia in 1949.
McIntyre was an active first lady of Laconia. In addition to her responsibilities as a homemaker and mother, she also represented a public relations firm and worked in civic and political causes. She was active in promotional work for the New Hampshire Heart Association and the New Hampshire Library Association and helped organize and firmly establish the New Hampshire Friends of the Library.
McIntyre dedicated many hours to working with special needs children at the Laconia State School. She served as chair of the American Rescue League of New Hampshire and personally sponsored four refugee families of the Hungarian Rebellion of 1956.
A political activist, she joined her husband on the campaign trail in his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House in 1954. She served as Democratic National Committeewoman from New Hampshire 1952 to 1956 and was a national representative for the Volunteers for Stevenson and Kefauver. The Senator and Mrs. McIntyre were active in the development of the nascent Democratic Party in New Hampshire.
In 1962, McIntyre joined her husband in crisscrossing the then Republican-dominated state of New Hampshire in support of Thomas McIntyre's successful campaign for Senate to fill the unexpired term of the late Republican Sen. Styles Bridges.
In a September 1971 article, Senator McIntyre said, "My wife is my eyes and ears on a number of issues. She is my sounding board, and the source of the most insightful political advice."
Mrs. McIntyre called herself "Tom's helper." She said, "I have always felt that the best way to achieve positive, effective and lasting political results is to work within the established system. Fragmentary efforts at best produce fragmentary results."
Once she moved to Washington, D.C., McIntyre remained active in political and volunteer activities. She was known for taking calls from New Hampshire constituents at their D.C. home because the senator uniquely listed his phone number in the public directory. She was a key strategic advisor during his Senate tenure and his re-election campaigns, partnering with him throughout his career to build the Democratic Party in New Hampshire.
McIntyre was a member of the Committee of Democratic Women's Clubs and active in the International Neighbors Club, an organization promoting international good will. She also served as president of the Democratic Congressional Wives Forum. She was an enthusiastic leader of "Operation Government," an effort that promoted 40 half-hour documentaries about the three branches of the Federal Government. While residing in Washington, she visited New Hampshire dozens of times a year.
The McIntyres returned to the campaign trail in 1966 when the senator became the first New Hampshire Democrat ever re-elected to the Senate with his defeat of retired Air Force General Harrison Thyng and again in 1972, when he defeated former Gov. Wesley Powell. McIntyre lost a close election in 1978 following his controversial vote for the Panama Canal Treaties, which was decried by his conservative opponent. Mrs. McIntyre was a tireless campaigner on behalf of her husband.
Following the 1978 election, the McIntyres built a home in Rye, N.H., when the senator was of counsel to the law firm of Sullivan and Worcester and served on several national advisory boards. The couple also lived in Tequesta, Florida until the Senator's death in 1992 at age 77.
Following the Senator's death, Mrs. McIntyre resided in the Falcon's Landing Retirement Community in Sterling, Virginia, in suburban Washington, D.C. She remained close to staff members who worked for Senator McIntyre. During the initial Obama campaign, Mrs. McIntyre was active in promoting absentee ballot voting by retirement home residents and staff. She remained a dedicated Democrat her entire life.
Per her wishes, there will be no calling hours, and interment in Laconia will be held at a later date. The Adams Green Funeral Home (703-437-1764) in Herndon, Virginia is assisting the family.
(This article was written by Ed Dooley, Ellen Kelley, and Tony Mazzaschi, all former members of Sen. Thomas McIntyre's U.S. Senate staff.)