Margaret Dexter (MarDee) Xifaras

Margaret Dexter (MarDee) Xifaras was born on June 15, 1945 and she died on October 8, 2019.  She was 74 years old.  She graduated from Boston University Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1981.  She practiced law for 38 years.  She was a special assistant D.A., she worked on the staff of Governor Dukakis, she was a member of the Board of Bar Overseers, and a UMass Trustee, and she served on countless other community-based boards.  She was a renowned domestic relations attorney.

MarDee was married to Judge John M. Xifaras for forty-eight years.  She had three children: MJ, Dena, and Julie.

At the age of 49, MarDee was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and told to get her affairs in order.  It took MarDee twenty-four years to get her affairs in order.  During this time, she saw the marriages of all three children, and the birth of six grandchildren.  Her family was the light of her life.

MarDee was an accomplished attorney.  She was dedicated to the pursuit of equality and justice for all of her clients.  She also was committed to making the world a better place through her activism and numerous volunteer efforts.

MarDee was a member of the Peace Corp.  She worked pro bono for many legal projects throughout the state and county, and was a Democratic party political operative who worked on local, state, and national campaigns.   MarDee worked for the following presidential candidates: McGovern, Harris, Carter, Kennedy, Mondale, Dukakis, Tsongas, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, Clinton, and O'Rourke.  She served as a Massachusetts State Democratic Committee person from the early 1970s until her passing, and served as a Democratic National Committeewoman from 1976 through 2009.

Mardee championed the cause of the UMass Law School, from the time it was Southern New England School of Law, through its merger with UMass in 2010, and until its full accreditation in 2016.  She believed that the public university system should have a law school and that the law school should be located in Southeastern Massachusetts.  MarDee's vision for the law school was quite simple: to prove excellent legal education at an affordable price, and to have a law school dedicated to providing lawyers focused on contributing to the public good.   From a professional standpoint, MarDee believed her most important achievement was helping the law school become a public institution to be proud of.

Still, MarDee's proudest achievements were within her family and friends, lives and relationships.

The lessons that MarDee left us all are very simple.  Twenty-four years ago she was told that each day was a gift.  She lived each day to the fullest in every way possible.  Three weeks before she passed away, she was still coming to the office.  A week before she passed away, she was down on the pier, watching her kids and grandkids swim.  She loved life and she would advise us all to take advantage of and appreciate every minute.