BRUNSWICK — Margaret Teal Tappan was absolutely obsessed with politics.

A lifelong Democrat, Mrs. Tappan campaigned for Gov. John Baldacci, supported legalizing gay marriage in Maine, volunteered for the League of Women Voters when she lived in Florida and followed the more recent health care debate.

“She read newspapers, and every night she watched “CBS Evening News” because she liked Katie Couric,” said her daughter Nancy Tappan. “She would get furious at the Republicans and when President Obama was inaugurated, she was just in heaven. She thought that was the greatest thing. She watched it beginning to end with tears in her eyes.”

Mrs. Tappan died Tuesday at the age of 80.

She was born in the Midwest and didn’t settle in Maine until 2004. But she had loved the state ever since taking a family vacation here when her children were young, her daughter said.

“She loved the lighthouses. Any opportunity she had, she’d drive down to the coast and just stand and look at the water and look at the boats,” she said.

While she lived here for only six years, she made an impact on her community.

When her daughter-in-law Lyn Mikel Brown got involved as a founding member of Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a nonprofit dedicated to the health and well-being of girls and women, Mrs. Tappan stepped up to help.

As an “other mother,” she donated $500 to help kick off the organization and continued as a donor and a supporter of various programs.

“Her involvement was very much because of me and her granddaughter, and only grandchild, Maya Brown, who is now 15,” Brown said. “So much of what we do is to support and empower girls. It had a direct personal meaning for her, not only because she’s a wonderful mother-in-law and supported me, but she saw something that Maya would benefit from as well.”

In lieu of flowers, her daughter said, the family would appreciate donations to Hardy Girls Healthy Women in Mrs. Tappan’s name.

Nancy Tappan said her mother offered wisdom to the girls she was involved with in the program.

“She was active as an elder, wise woman,” she said, “to give (the girls) a sense of their own worth and the feeling they can do much more than what their immediate community and surroundings might lead them to believe they can do.”

Kathy Atkinson, a friend and former co-worker of Mrs. Tappan’s, said the “key word” to describe the woman was “vivacious.”

“She was always ahead of her time,” acting with zest, interest and keen intelligence, Atkinson said.

When they worked together at Valley Forge Junior High School in Pennsylvania, she remembers Mrs. Tappan taking action that allowed boys, not just girls, to participate in the home economics class she taught.

“She had a determined will that she could make this world better in any way she could,” Atkinson said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

ebouthillette@pressherald.com