Deborah McIntosh, 71

July 29, 1947 - jan. 10, 2019
Deborah McIntosh, July 29, 1947 - jan. 10, 2019

Deborah Binion Cahn McIntosh, who spent her childhood and young adult summers in East Hampton, died unexpectedly in her sleep at home in East Falmouth, Mass., on Jan. 10. She was 71 and had been in robust health. The cause was not known.

She was born in New York City on July 29, 1947, and was adopted by Peggy Masback Cahn and Joshua Binion Cahn. She grew up in Manhattan, where she attended the Dalton School, and she graduated from the Stockbridge School in Massachusetts. She returned to New York to study at Mills College of Education, putting the degree to good use when she moved with her husband, Thomas Richard McIntosh, whom she married in 1970, to Falmouth. There, she was an early education and Title 1 teacher in the public school system.

Her sister, Martha Binion Cahn Pellegrino of Rockland, Me., said her sister’s “love of education and remarkable reliability soon led her to become a fixture in the public school systems of Falmouth and Mashpee as a substitute teacher in the 1980s and ’90s."

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she  took time off from work to bring up her sons, and in 2017, one of them gave her a DNA kit and she was able to locate relatives of her birth parents, including two half sisters and a half brother.

  Once her sons were grown, she turned what had been a gardening hobby into a successful business. “Her family, friends, and customers always marveled at the natural talent Debby had for plants and landscaping,” Ms. Pellegrino said.

Friends who knew her at school and in East Hampton mentioned Ms. McIntosh’s energy, her Isadora Duncan-inspired dancing, and her singing and guitar playing. They reported that she had stepped out with the folksinger-songwriter Arlo Guthrie for a time.

Her sister said that in Falmouth she was known for a “cheerful and generous demeanor.” She added, with “unique energy, Debby lived life in the moment and focused on helping others. She will be missed by many individuals and organizations, including the Upper Cape Camera Club, the Falmouth Art Center, the Falmouth Service Center, the Coonamessett Pond Association, and Highfield Hall and Gardens.”

Ms. McIntosh enjoyed spending time with friends and family, her sons said, and she took many photographs and supported her favorite causes through charitable gifts and volunteering. They said she “delighted in the growth of her three grandchildren, and in traveling nationally and internationally.”

Ms. McIntosh’s husband died in 2015. Her sons, Andrew McIntosh of Kensington, Md., and Daniel McIntosh of Daly City, Calif., survive, as do three grandchildren.

In addition to her sister, a brother, Nicholas Binion of San Francisco, a half brother, Barry Hyatt of Fountain Valley, Calif., and two half sisters, Barbara Keller of Losone, Switzerland, and Meryl Hyatt Overton of Fountain Valley, survive. Two nieces survive as well.

Ms. McIntosh was cremated. Those who knew her have been invited to an informal reception to honor her life on Feb. 9 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Falmouth Art Center.