Ten years after being given three months to live because of a paralyzed diaphragm, a form of lung disease, Margaret Elizabeth Burt of Provincetown and Fort Myers Beach, Fla. died peacefully, surrounded by her family, in her Provincetown home at 156 Commercial St. on July 15, 2023. She was 85.
The second daughter of John W. “Bill” Burt and Elizabeth “Betty” Burt, Meg was born on May 27, 1938 in West Medford, an event that made her sister Cathy very happy.
She was born into a family of Provincetown sea captains dating back to the 1700s. Her great-grandfather, Capt. Matthias Burt, ran the last sailing packet from Provincetown to Boston before the advent of steamships. Meg grew up in West Medford but spent her childhood summers in Provincetown sailing, fishing, and perpetrating shenanigans with her sister.
“She was rebellious as a child,” Meg’s daughter Laura said.
After graduating from high school, she attended Michigan State University, where she honed her racing skills on the sailing team. She brought those skills back to the Provincetown Yacht Club, where she enthusiastically bested almost everyone she competed against, including the men.
Flyer Santos unabashedly admitted that she was one of the best sailors he had ever seen. Whenever she ran into Flyer, Laura claimed, he’d say, “Now your mother — that’s a sailor!”
A devoted mother of three daughters, Meg took care to spare them burdens and to share her interests with them. She taught them how to sail.
“She knew the wind, knew how to play it to her advantage,” Laura said. “She taught us with a stick of butter and toothpicks how to set sail positions.”
Her love of animals inspired her to study veterinary science in college, but her love of a good time led her to take a less demanding route. Meg loved a good party. “The more the merrier,” Meg said when Laura invited a group of friends over. “The bigger the party, the better.”
Meg graduated with a degree in physical education and taught intermittently at elementary schools in Michigan and on the Cape. Her granddaughter Katie recalls that after Meg’s retirement a man approached them and said to Meg, “I remember you from elementary school; we loved you so much.”
Meg bred horses and inspired her children to participate in horse shows, and her lifelong devotion to dogs led her to become one of the top German shepherd breeders and show trainers in the country. The offspring of one of her dogs even made it in show business, winning the role of the “Bionic Dog.”
After Meg’s daughter Catherine died in 2014, Meg raised her granddaughter, Katie. “All of her grandchildren and their friends lovingly called her ‘Gram,’ ” Katie said. “She was everyone’s favorite, and people always seemed to gravitate to her.”
Carrying on a tradition instituted by her parents, Meg would hold court on the front porch of her West End house with afternoon libations and hors d’oeuvres, fully enjoying the world as it passed by and as it paused to join her. The sight of Meg on her porch will live on in West End memory.
“Meg loved to go on cruises, play bridge, and eat as many sweets as she could manage,” said Laura. “She defied all normal conventions and lived life exactly how she wanted.”
Meg is survived by her daughters, Laura Burt of Brewster and Heather Peale of Cape Coral, Fla.; grandchildren Katie Johnson of Texas, Bailey Peale and Briggs Peale of Cape Coral, and Matthias Burt of Brewster; and nieces Betsey Martin and Peggy Patterson and their children of Mercer Island, Wash.
She was predeceased by her daughter Catherine “Kit” Burt.
Friends are asked to contact the family for further details about a planned celebration of life for Meg.