We first met Barbara and Don -and their eight children - on a family group visit to Sturbridge in 1971. As we only had two, they impressed us immediately with their parental skills. Later, as we became friends, we were even more impressed by their generous approach to life. Our memories of all the family remain strong, although we moved South in 1988.
Barbara was fun to be with and a simply wonderful human being. Our condolences to all.
Reflections About Our Mom, Barbara A. Putnam
On behalf of all of our family, I want to thank you for being with us today to share the burden
of heavy hearts and to join in the celebration of our mom's life.
Knowing Barbara Putnam, you would have to agree she was a remarkable woman because
of her faith, her down-to-earth manner, her willingness to get involved and do the work she
felt needed to get done, her sense of humor, and how much she cared for people in every
sphere of her life.
The way our mom lived her life was evidence that she had a deep and abiding faith in her
Heavenly Father, as her Protector, her Sustainer. She acknowledged Jesus as her Savior,
and her heart was open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It was from this deep faith that
Mom drew her purpose in life. It was upon this faith that she boldly held her convictions and
carried on through many trials and heartaches from devastating losses: first her dear husband
Don of more than 40 years; then her 18-year-old grandson, Leo, suddenly; her sister Betty;
and then again, suddenly, her 56-year-old daughter, her firstborn, Barby.
As small and fragile as Mom appeared, she was a force of prayer. She prayed for her family
daily, she prayed with and for her friends, for the unborn, for our country, for the poor.
She also prayed for a stronger faith, to be forgiven her doubts and discouragement. She
championed the sanctity of all human life, especially for the unborn, or those without a voice,
and that each person is made in the image of God, whether they are an embryo hidden in
a woman's womb or someone lying in a bed in a coma. Mom and I shared some precious
moments praying together in the hospital and rehab, which I will treasure always.
This past week I came across many of our mom's writings, jotted down in little notes here
and there. They were all over, on various scraps of paper, on the back of bank statements, in
small memo books, and in journals.
Many of these notes reflected a close relationship with God, thanking him for the day, for
the blessing of a dear friend's visit, for the way a problem had been resolved. I found a little
book on her bedside table by the title of The Practice of the Presence of God, Being
Conversations and Letters of Brother Lawrence. This book sums it up. She did just that,
she practiced being WITH God.
Mom taught us and encouraged us kids to pray often as well, before meals, at bedtime, in the
morning, and throughout the day.
In an effort to “train up” her children, our mom also made us do A LOT of things we didn't
want to do: When we were 7 to 12 years old, we had to spend every hot summer day up at
the park. She let us come home for lunch, then we had to head back up there from 1 o'clock
till 3 or 4. There was not a lot to do except make gimp bracelets and weave pot holders. No
shade and a water fountain that only sometimes worked. And this was before the “discovery”
of plastic water bottles.
Also in those days the philosophy of child-rearing and discipline, at least in our house, might
include Mom chasing us around the kitchen table with a wooden spoon. We broke a wooden
spoon or two; but with eight kids, parenting, at times, must have been maddening. I guess
that's how many of us kids came to excel at running.
At 13 we had to volunteer as counselors Monday through Friday 9 to 3 during most of the
summer at St. Coletta's, a camp for kids with all kinds of disabilities, which was terrifying at
first, but then lots of fun when you got to know everybody .
The day after Halloween we had to bring all of our Halloween candy up to the nursing home
to give to the residents, which was far scarier than any night-time Halloween trick or treating
ever was. I bet there are still candy wrappers in the insulation of the eves of the attic at 189
We also each had to stand up and do a speech after Sunday dinner before the harshest
audience a speaker could ever face -- your own siblings! We then had to vote on the best
speech and why. The winner would be awarded a quarter; the runner up got a dime. I think
we all dreaded Sunday dinner.
As kids coming home each day, we never knew who might be at our house. Mom opened
her door to many people. For example, we would share our Sunday afternoon and dinner
with an elderly woman from the nursing home up the street who had no family, or a Maryknoll
missionary priest just back from the Sudan. Two black kids from the city stayed with us for a
few weeks over successive summers, and troubled teenagers and foster children stayed with
us for short times while things settled down in their relationships at their home. And when you
invite people into your home, situations sometimes get messy and are not without a price, but
our mom and dad were willing to get involved and take risks in reaching out to others.
At home our telephone often rang with calls about homeless families staying in a shelter at
a hotel in town. Mom and her friends would scramble to get them groceries, a hot plate to
cook on, and the basics to get by for a few days until the family could get settled somewhere.
Because these scenarios were all too common, our parents were prompted to become
involved in feeding the hungry and were instrumental in starting the Weymouth Food Pantry.
After handing over the reins of the pantry, Mom volunteered at the pantry, doing what she
could. Our parents also worked on a project to secure and fix up a house in town for a
As you can see there are countless stories. Mom left a rich legacy to her kids, grandkids,
and great grandkids. She also left a legacy as a dear friend, a member of the community, the
churches where she attended. She lived out her faith in service and generosity to others less
fortunate in Weymouth and around the world.
But most importantly, through some deep conversations with Mom it was clear that she knew
she couldn't earn or work her way or be good enough to get into heaven. She believed that
Jesus died on the cross for her as a sinner. And this act of Jesus' love, to die for her sin, my
sin and yours is a free gift, which she chose to accept to be right with God. So having lived IN
Christ, she now has eternal life with Him. We each have the same choice to make. Choose
eternal life with Him.
I want to read a handwritten letter our mom left her kids, grandchildren, and great
I am sorry to have to leave all of you. I have loved and enjoyed each and every one of you.
Children are gifts from God, and He sure did bless me abundantly with so many, wrapped in
all kinds of different packages. I wouldn't trade any one of you and love the uniqueness of
each of you, which has certainly helped me so much through the later years of my life. It has
all been a trip that I would not have wanted to miss and am thankful to my God who gave you
Please stay close to each other as a family; love and encourage, and always forgive one
another. Pray for me. I leave this favorite quote of mine with you:
“If I left my Christian religion, but not a penny to my children they would be rich.
If I left them the whole world but they had not the Christian religion, they would be
May you feel the love that I have for all of you. May it be with you forever.
(Signed) Mum, Grammy, Great Grammy
Oh Barbara, how I shall always remember your winning smile,
your friendly nature and your indomitable spirit. It was a
privilege to have known you.
My condolences to all the remaining family. You were
indeed blessed to have had her in your life, as was I.
Dear Family, Barbara was such an inspiration to me. Wherever there were people in need - there was Barbara with big heart and open hands ready to do whatever was needed. She was so tiny in body yet sooooo big in spirit - and wherever did she get all that energy!!! She left us this legacy and we all must carry on.
Finding solace in memories of happy times spent together. My sincere and heartfelt wishes of comfort and peace are extended to all Barbara's family and friends on her passing.- Laura J. Palmer (Putnam) Cosgrove
My condolences to the Putnam family. Barbara always had a smile and a kind word for everyone, a keen sense of humor and a heart of gold. I'll miss seeing her as she tended her garden of beautiful flowers. She was a good neighbor and I'm glad to have known her.
My condolences to the Putnum Family. I will miss Barbara's wit and humor. She was so lively and energetic! She was a good neighbor and friend...Rest In Peace Barbara.
My condolences to the Putnam family including spouses and grandchildren. Barbara is a lovely lady - I enjoyed her company very much when went on the bus trips to Washington with the Friends of the unborn. she was a true friend. Barbara is a Beautiful Lady! God Bless...
the dolan family, i cant express enough how sorry i am about grammie, she really was a wonderful person and enjoyed seeing her at all the dolan gatherings, i dont think she missed one! well now she is with mom and are talking away about everyone and enjoying all the lives they created. i know i will miss her deepley. sincerely debbie mckenzie
We would always see her outside on the warm days taking care of her garden; Many times, picking some of her beautiful flowers and giving them to my two little girls. I enjoyed chatting with her and seeing all her family pictures. We will miss her smile and treasure the great memories of her. She was a wonderful woman. May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Barbara,I'll always remember celebrating the Mass together in Pompano Beach,Florida. She told me how much she loved her children and how very proud she was of all of them.
Barbara was a dear friend and will be missed very much
My condolence to all of Barbara's family. I was so sorry to hear of her passing. Both our Mothers were such good friends and Barbara always continued to check on my Mom and help
her long after her own Mom was gone. We
all had many good memories back in good
old Weymouth. In loving sympathy,
Barbara was a loving lady and would surprise you with her quips, will miss her greatly she was a true ray of sunshine with a beautiful smile and I am so happy to say she was my friend.
our condolences to the putnam family. your mother was good friends with our mother for many years. lots of good memories. the sances family
Barbara was a wonderful lady who always greeted you with a beautiful smile. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.
Ray and Ann Blake
Barbara, always had a pleasant smile and friendly conversations after the 9 am mass ,which she loved to attend, I am so sorry to hear of her passing, May she rest in peace with her Donald who was also a nice person. Ruthie Linehan
Thank-you for being a kind and loving mother and friend. May you rest in peace
Barbara will be very much missed by her friends in the prolife community. She was very close to us at Friends of the Unborn, home for homeless pregnant young women. She traveled with us to Canada, retreats in Kennebunkport Maine and the March for Life in Washington, DC. We loved her joyful spirit and wonderfully positive attitude. We express our deepest condolences to her beautiful family.