“He’s a fighter,” says Chip McIntosh, explaining how his father, 100-year-old Arthur “Mac” McIntosh, was able to battle coronavirus and win. But the retired plumber, who has been a Local 12 member for 65 years, didn’t go it alone. He also had the help and support of his family.
In mid-March, Chip, who lives with and helps care for Arthur in their Quincy home, contracted the virus and relocated to a hotel to quarantine himself. His sister, Marifrances McIntosh, moved in to take over the care of their father. A couple of weeks later, Arthur developed a fever, fatigue, and other telltale symptoms of coronavirus. Marifrances also fell ill with COVID-19.
“We decided that we would give [Arthur] really good nursing care at home rather than send him to the hospital,” says Chip, who is a nurse practitioner. Marifrances and her two sisters are also nurses. They reasoned that their father wouldn’t have been able to have visitors in a hospital, and that the isolation would be difficult for him. Arthur also wouldn’t have had the loving care that his family was able to offer.
Chip, who had recovered enough to resume caring for Arthur, returned home. It took some effort to get his father moving, drinking, and eating, but he persisted.
“He’s famous for saying, ‘I’m not hungry. Leave me alone,’ ” Chip says about his dad. “Then I’d get him up, bring him to the kitchen, put a big serving of meat loaf in front of him, and he’d eat the whole thing.”
Once Arthur was able to handle the routine, his family would get him outside daily to walk with his walker. Slowly, but surely, they nursed him back to health.
By the middle of May, Arthur was able to celebrate his 101st birthday, which was captured by WBZ TV and broadcast on the news. Practicing social distancing, about 30 cars drove by his home to join in the festivities. Also on his birthday, both Arthur and Chip got test results indicating that they no longer had COVID-19. That enabled them to gather with other family members to mark the occasion as well. “That was a great birthday present,” Chip says.
Arthur served as an Army sergeant in Europe during World War II. When he returned after the war, he reunited with his girlfriend, Agnes, and married her. Arthur went to work for P.F Russo Plumbing and Heating Company and pursued a career as a plumber. His father-in-law, Patrick F. Russo, owned the Hyde Park shop. While attending the Franklin Institute in Boston, Arthur learned to read blueprints and developed other industry skills.
He joined Local 12 in the 1950s and worked for Crane Plumbing, eventually serving as an outside super. Among the jobs Arthur worked on was the Prudential Center. He also worked as an outside super for J.C. Higgins. He retired in 1986.
According to Chip, Arthur has “always been a fighter and a problem solver. He’d never give up until the job was done.” That kind of focus and attitude are good skills to have for a plumber. And for someone fighting coronavirus at the age of 100.