Tufts Professor of Archaeology Hope Cahill, age 41, was killed last week when her Beacon Hill home caught fire. Her husband, MIT professor Arthur Trent, also perished in the blaze. Their two children, Amy, age 7, and Dan, age 4, survived.
Cahill was born in 1960 to Grace Cahill and Nathaniel Hartford, two notable residents of Attleboro, MA. Cahill’s neighbors remember her as an “imaginative child” who was always “excavating” the grounds of her family’s estate. Flora Richards recalls how the young Cahill “always had dirt on her nose from playing explorer.”
Hope Cahill graduated from Brown University in 1982 with degrees in History and Old World Archaeology. In 1989, she met Trent in Turkey where Cahill was supervising a dig and Trent was teaching math at the University of Istanbul. They married in 1992 and their daughter, Amy, was born in 1994 followed by their son, Dan, in 1997.
Despite their busy careers, both Cahill and Trent were devoted to their children. Their Beacon Hill neighbor, Anthony Chambers, recalls the treat they planned for Amy’s fifth birthday: “Before [Amy] woke up, Hope hid little notes all over the neighborhood so Amy could go on a birthday scavenger hunt. It led her to a surprise party at the library, her favorite place in the world.”
Cahill was also famous for her generosity and extravagant acts of kindness. Her friend, Kendall Black, likes to tell a story about when Cahill volunteered at the local community center: “Hope met a Nigerian woman whose fourteen-year-old son was living alone in Nigeria. She was having trouble getting him a visa but couldn’t leave the US because they’d never let her back. Hope heard the story and, within two days, the son was on a plane to Boston. Apparently, Hope used some connection with the State Department. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was some sort of ex-spy!”
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Hope Cahill’s name to Amnesty International.