Old Lyme fire victim was devoted to church, family, neighbors

Several fire departments were called in Saturday night to put out a fire in Old Lyme that claimed the life of 95-year-old Carolyn M. McCarthy.
Several fire departments were called in Saturday night to put out a fire in Old Lyme that claimed the life of 95-year-old Carolyn M. McCarthy.

Old Lyme - Carolyn M. McCarthy was remembered Monday as a faithful parishioner of Christ the King Church and a well-loved neighbor who cared deeply about others.

McCarthy, 95, died Sunday after a stove ignited her clothes Saturday night in her home at 7 Lyme St., a landmark building in the town's historic village district. The two-story, four-unit white condominium building is now evacuated and awaiting some decisions about its future.

Monsignor Thomas R. Bride of Christ the King said McCarthy was a devoted Catholic who walked one-tenth of a mile each morning to Mass. She had attended Saturday Mass on the evening of the fire.

"She had a lot of spunk and a lot of character," he recalled fondly. "She loved God and she loved her faith."

Carol Brown, McCarthy's neighbor at the condominium, which is part of a homeowners association that includes Boxwood Apartments, also remembered McCarthy as a sincere, independent and friendly person.

"She loved her family," said Brown. "She cared about people here, and, of course, she loved her church."

McCarthy's family members said Monday they were grateful to the community.

"We appreciate the support of the community," said Sara Pepitone, McCarthy's granddaughter.

Fire Marshal David Roberge said three full-time residents lived in the 19th-century building off Lyme Street. Another person had a secondary residence in the building.

The fire started Saturday at the kitchen stove, which lit McCarthy's clothing. She was flown to Bridgeport Hospital, where she died Sunday.

Fire departments from nearby towns, including Old Saybrook, Lyme, East Lyme, Westbrook, Clinton, Deep River and Essex, responded to the scene.

There were no other injuries related to the fire, said Roberge. The American Red Cross has offered temporary and short-term housing, as well as supplies, to the displaced fire victims.

The building has been boarded up and secured, he said. He said insurance companies have been notified and he awaits further direction from the homeowners association.

Bride said McCarthy was a devoted mother and grandmother and cared about others. She was also well-read, keeping up on events both in the church and in the world.

"She just never gave up her quest for learning," he said.

Brown, her neighbor, recalled one St. Patrick's Day when she had returned to Connecticut after traveling. When McCarthy spotted Brown in the hallway, she insisted that she join her family for their St. Patrick's Day dinner.

"It was the best corned beef dinner I've ever had," said Brown. "She was that kind of a person."



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