Phoebe McDonough, a former librarian at the East Hampton Library, died on Saturday at home on Buell Lane in East Hampton. She was 92.
The “cornerstones of her life,” her family said, were books, music, crossword puzzles, and her family. Among her favorite authors were Dickens and Trollope.
She was a jazz and blues devotee and particularly a fan of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Fond memories persist, her family said, of her sitting on the bar at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett some years ago during a sold-out show, sharing cigarettes with the bartender while watching Taj Mahal perform.
A month before she died, Mrs. McDonough called her children to her side, they said, and, lighting a cigarette, she reminded them of her age. “I’m not renewing any magazine subscriptions,” she said.
She told them how she had enjoyed her life and asked them to write her obituary and bring the draft to her. “I want to see before everyone else,” she said.
In keeping, perhaps, with their colorful matriarch, her children, two of whom are writers, wrote a first draft in jest. “At the age of 2, she was smuggled into the United States in a sausage casing,” it said. “She made a living rolling drunks and reciting ancient Greek curses on the streets of Boston.”
It continued: “Mrs. McDonough enjoyed crocheting headstones and biting unsuspecting small children who came to the house on Halloween.”
The family said she deemed it “droll.”
“I expected no less,” she told them. “Now get to work on the real one.”
David McDonough of Titusville, N.J., said his mother once said that for her, heaven would consist of reading all her favorite authors for the first time. “She is probably starting with Dickens,” he said.
A daughter of Louis G. Stone and Esther Goldberg Stone, who were Lithuanian immigrants, she was born in Boston on March 9, 1919. She graduated from Boston Girls Latin School and then the University of Massachusetts, where she majored in English and made several lifelong friends.
Upon her graduation, she went to work at the Boston Public Library. On her first day there, bachelors on the staff sent one of their own, Eamon McDonough, to check out the new girl. They were married in 1945. Their other two children, both of whom survive, are Alison McDonough of Langhorne, Pa., and Joan McDonough of Queens.
In 1957 the McDonoughs moved to East Hampton when Mr. McDonough was hired as the East Hampton High School librarian. His wife took a job at the East Hampton Library, where she worked for many years. Mr. McDonough died in 1988.
In recent years, she volunteered at the Ladies Village Improvement Society Bargain Box bookstore, where she shared many lunches with two good friends, Wings White and Peg D’Andrea.
In addition to her children, Ms. McDonough is survived by two brothers, Albert Stone of Chevy Chase, Md., and Rudyard Stone of California. Five grandchildren also survive.
At her request, there was no funeral. The family will hold a gathering for friends and relatives at a later date. Contributions in her memory have been suggested to any local food bank.