Doreen McCann, a longtime resident of Peaks Island, who taught dance to many islanders and directed the Lions Club’s annual variety show for more than 50 years, died Sunday of complications of Multiple Sclerosis. She was 89.

Mrs. McCann had a lifelong passion for dancing. She learned how to dance as a kid and performed in venues across Northern England as a member of the dance troupe Green Trio. In the mid 1940s, she met her husband, Albert McCann, while he was stationed in England during World War II. They got married in April of 1947 and moved to Peaks Island.

The McCanns lived on the island for 65 years and raised seven children there. They also raised an adopted son. She taught five of her children how to dance, including her daughter, Cathy Murphy, of Norway. Like Mrs. McCann, her children also danced at church fairs and other community events.

“She was a good teacher,” Murphy said, chuckling a little. “She would get up there and show us the steps. It was fun dancing and learning the steps, but we still got very nervous going up on stage and dancing in front of people.”

The dancing matriarch hosted Friday night square dancing events for many years. She also operated a dance studio in her home called, “Star of the Sea,” where she taught generations of island kids how to dance. She also taught tap dance classes at Riverton Elementary School in Portland for many years.

Mrs. McCann’s students participated in the popular Lions Club Variety Show, which she helped organize into her 80s.


“Dancing was my mom’s passion,” said her daughter, Mary McCann, of New Gloucester. “She loved entertaining and putting on shows for people. She loved music.”

Mrs. McCann was remembered by her children on Tuesday as kind, loving, generous, creative and determined. She raised seven children, including a daughter with Down syndrome. She later became a foster mom for kids with disabilities, and adopted her son David, who has Down syndrome.

Mrs. McCann was a longtime member of St. Christopher Church on Peaks Island. Her daughter said Mrs. McCann was active on many church committees, including the Women’s Council.

“She was very Irish Catholic. Religion was very big for her and my father. We used to have to say the rosary after dinner every night. She always had her rosary with her,” she said.

At about 50 years old, Mrs. McCann was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Her illness took away her ability to dance, though she continued to teach until her 80s.

“She would sit in her (scooter) and use her arms and shuffle her feet to show the students what to do,” Mary McCann said. “She was determined. The MS wasn’t going to stop her from doing what she wanted to do. Dancing was a creative outlet for her and she did it until she couldn’t anymore.”

In 1995, she became the second person to be honored with the Lions Club’s True Grit Award for her service to the Peaks Island community. In 2012, she was featured in the “Remember ME” program and photography exhibit, and honored for her lifetime achievements at an awards ceremony at the State House in Augusta.

“She was excited,” Mary McCann said. “She thought it as a real honor to be recognized like that.”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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