SHAMOKIN — Barbara Lucia (McKenzie) Knarr, 60, passed away at home in the early afternoon hours of Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. Her loving husband and two youngest children were at her bedside. She succumbed to complications related to a long battle with an illness that overtook her earlier this year in May, and left her paralyzed from the neck down.
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Barbara was born in 1952 at Shamokin Hospital, the youngest of three children to Frank (Ducky) McKenzie and Catherine (Procopio) McKenzie.
She attended St. Edward's grade school and Our Lady of Lourdes High School and left before graduating in 1970, but later in life, she made getting her diploma a top priority; she passed her GED with flying colors in 1985.
Barb, as her friends called her, ('Big Mammy' as her grandchildren knew her) spent most of her life residing in her childhood home on Franklin Street, with only a few of those years lived not far away on Commerce Street in Shamokin. Although she did not travel often, nor very far, when she did, she loved to recall memories of a favorite vacation trip taken to a rented beach house in Rehoboth Beach, Del., during the summer of 2007, where she spent a week at the beach with all of her children and grandchildren, as well as her brother and his family.
She often told a story of how she came across a skinny young fellow one day, as he was trying to capture a bird that flew under a car that was parked close to her Franklin Street home (or at least, that's the line he was using at the time). It turns out that it must have been a love bird under that car, because on Oct. 4, 1969, she married Glenn Arlin Knarr Jr., who found his way to her doorstep after moving to Shamokin from Wilkes-Barre with his mother, brother and sister after his father, Glenn Sr., passed away at the age of 39.
Beyond the obligatory duties of a '70s housewife, as her kids got older, she spent years employed as an Avon lady. She also worked at The News-Item for some time in the circulation department, as well as at Walmart in Coal Township, where she was awarded top cashier and spent the last of her working years before her health kept her from continuing. She was well known for her infectious laugh. Co-workers would hear her laughing across the store and say "Here comes Barb, we would know that laugh anywhere."
Although she was not well-traveled, that hardly made her not well-loved. Barb had an infectious outgoing personality, anyone who met her immediately loved her as the funny, outgoing, caring human being that she was. She met and befriended many people over the years, and with the advent of technology, quickly expanded her vast empire of friends online as well. Her Facebook profile will quickly attest to this, as hundreds of people publicly mourn her passing. She had an uncanny ability to listen and understand people's problems, always providing a shoulder to lean on in a time of need.
Barb loved to cook large, homemade Italian meals that sometimes took hours (or in some cases, days) to complete, but no matter if it was 5 p.m. or midnight, she always made sure that everyone that was in her vicinity would "mangiare" (Eat!). We and our childhood friends were always well-fed.
She took great pride and joy in spending time with her grandchildren and we chuckled to ourselves when she would sometimes scold them in Italian, as we all recalled the same gentle warnings from when we were younger.
Her final wish was to return home from the many hospitals and nursing homes she was moving between, and spend Christmas in "her" home with all of her children and grandchildren, and on Dec. 12, she accomplished just that. On the evening of Dec. 24, she was completely surrounded by her loving family and the typical chaos of a Christmas Eve in the Knarr house. She sat quietly and softly smiled as she watched the grandchildren open their gifts. Later, she looked at us with a small tear trickling down her cheek and softly said, "I am home."
She lovingly raised, and tolerated the sometimes nerve-wracking antics, of three feisty children throughout another 43 years, and enjoyed watching her family grow.
Barb is survived by her husband, Glenn A. Knarr Jr.; a son, Glenn F. Knarr, and his wife, Pamela, and grandson, Glenn T., of Clarks Summit; a daughter, Sherry Dampman, and her husband, Jay; two granddaughters, Erika Kapushinski and Cara Dampman and grandson, Chase Dampman, of Coal Township, and Brian Knarr, and his wife, Amy; a granddaughter, McKenzie, and a grandson, Brian Jr., of Shamokin. She is also survived by a brother, Carmen McKenzie, and his wife, Colette, of Hockessin, Del. She was lovingly known as Aunt Barb to her nieces and nephews, Theresa, Bernadette, Felicia and Bridget, children of Rose, and Christopher, James, Kimberly and Carmen, children of Carmen. She also has several great-nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by both parents, and a sister, Rose Avellino, of Kulpmont.
KNARR — Barbara Lucia (McKenzie) Knarr, 60, of Shamokin. In observance of her strong Christian beliefs, A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at Mother Cabrini Church. She will be interred in All Saints Cemetery, Bear Gap, next to her mother, father and sister. A viewing will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday with a vigil service at 6 p.m. at the Leonard J. Lucas Funeral Home, 120 S. Market St., Shamokin. The viewing will continue from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Published in The News Item on Jan. 2, 2013