Ethel Shatford Preston, "mother to many", dies at 63
Ethel Shatford Preston died at her Haskell Street home in
Gloucester on Saturday, October 30, 1999.
After a lifetime of generosity and a burst of national fame,
Preston, who worked as a bartender at the Crow's Nest for
the past 15 years, lost a six-month battle with cancer.
She was 63.
"Ethel was a larger-than-life character," said Crow's Nest
owner Gregg Souza, who hired Preston the day after he took
over the bar. "This is a real loss, there's a big void here."
For the past several years, Preston has been in the spotlight
because of the best-selling book, "The Perfect Storm," which
chronicles the final trip of the fishing vessel Andrea Gail.
Preston's son, Robert Shatford, was lost during that trip eight
years ago just before Halloween. Preston described the book by
Sebastian Junger as a "painful but truthful" account of the Andrea
Gail. And while she initially expressed reservations about the
Warner Brothers movie that followed, she eventually became
close friends with many of the cast, particularly Mark
Wahlburg, who plays Preston's son, Bobby.
But long before the popularity of the book sent hordes of
visitors to the Crow's Nest in search of Preston, her friends,
acquaintances, and many fishermen and waterfront workers
all prized her for her constant generosity.
Her death is a huge loss for the close-knit Shatford family.
"She was a very loving mother and she really taught us to love
each other," said her daughter, Mary Anne Shatford. In
addition to Mary Anne, Preston is survived by a daughter,
Susan, and sons Ricky, Russell and Brian.
Friends who knew Preston 30 and more years ago remember
her days as a buyer for Brown's Department Store.
Although she enjoyed a successful retail career, her work
always came second to family and friends. She was a
baby-sitter whenever a friend needed help, a listener for
anyone who had a problem and a cook for anyone who was
hungry. Friends would never miss a dinner when Preston
cooked her famous mandarin chicken. In more recent years,
she took care of the waterfront family of regulars at the
"She was sort of like a den mother to everyone here," said
Souza. "Besides her own family, there were about 50 other
guys in here that called her 'Ma.'" And there was a reason for
that affection. Every Christmas, Preston would buy everyone
in the Crow's Nest a gift. Anyone who had a problem had a
friend and sympathetic ear in Preston. "She saw the best in
everyone," said Mary Anne. "You could talk to her about
anything and she would never judge you."
Although Preston had been sick since last spring, she would still
visit the Crow's Nest on days when she felt well. And when she
wasn't able to visit, she was always the first topic of conversation
among Crow's Nest regulars.
"Everyone was in love with her," said Mary Anne. "She was selfless to
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 3, in the United
334 Main St, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 01930, US
phone: (978) 281-2965