Nancy Stoughton Barber, 82, of West Brattleboro, VT, died January 23, 2021, of complications from Chronic T Cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia with family at her bedside. Nancy was born in Troy, NY on July 31, 1938, daughter of Norton Barber and Marcia Lamberton Stevens of Bennington, Vermont. On arrival, she helped teach her eldest brother Orion that their parents' attention would be henceforth divided. Although born in New York state, Nancy grew up in Bennington and attended the one-room Little School in Old Bennington for grades 1 to 3. She then continued her elementary education at Bennington Graded School, Bennington High School and finished her last two high-school years at the Northfield School for Girls, Northfield, MA, Class of 1956. She graduated with a BA in English/Spanish from the University of Vermont, Class of 1961.
After graduation she worked as a secretary in Boston until 1972, when she married. After a move to California, she was divorced, and worked for Syntex Research, first as a secretary, followed by a new career as a Clinical Research Associate (CRA). She lived in California until 1993, when she returned to Boston and worked as a CRA for Biopure Corporation. In 1994, she joined Wyeth Pharmaceuticals as a Senior Clinical Trial Support Specialist. She retired from Wyeth in 2006.
Nancy moved to Brattleboro following retirement to be near family, happy to be away from the city and to enjoy a slower pace of life. She loved animals and over the years had a series of cats and for several years a rescued Greyhound, Daisy. She immersed herself in local organizations, volunteering at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital in the oncology department. She served on the Westgate Housing Inc. Board and was a Town Meeting Representative from District 1. As a member of the West Brattleboro Association she was voted Community Leader of the Year in 2016. She co-chaired the Brattleboro Solid Waste Committee. As an environmentalist, she was fierce about recycling and woe to those who put something in the trash that could be recycled. For several years she was the West Brattleboro coordinator for Green-Up Day. Nancy celebrated when Brattleboro banned the single-use plastic bag and always had several sturdy canvas bags at hand for purchases.
Nancy loved music and grew up singing with the family, especially sea chanteys, accompanied on the banjo by her father. She played the banjo too, but admitted that she was never as skilled as her dad. She enjoyed opera in HD at the Latchis Theater and was a member of the BMC Concert Choir.
As a center of her life in each community she joined a local Episcopal church. She attended Saint Timothy's in Mountain View, CA. In Andover, MA, she attended Christ Church, and after moving to Brattleboro she joined Saint Michael's Episcopal Church. As a member of each church she participated in many ways, serving on the Vestry, mentoring a teenager, was certified graduate of the Education for Ministry, attended the weekly Forum discussions, was active in groups dedicated to Social Justice and Anti-Racism among others. She sang in all three church choirs.
Nancy was a much beloved member of any group she was in. In California, Nancy joined a group of like-minded folks who were hikers treking in the local hills and on longer treks in the Sierras. In recent years in Brattleboro, a favorite activity was lunch or dinner with a group of women friends that referred to themselves as wise old birds. Her blithe spirit, intelligent wit, humility and love overflowed in everything she was a part of. She was funny herself and appreciated other people's senses of humor. She was loyal, honest, direct and forthright, with a gift for friendship. Nancy was a prolific reader with a large range of interests but she loved nothing better than a ripping good murder mystery. She loved spoonerisms and could, when prompted, recite Prinderella and the Since.
In 2014, after 51 years, Nancy was reunited with her son, Jonathan O'Connor. Because of the stigma of being an unwed mother in the early'60s, she was pressured into giving him up for adoption. Jonathan often refers to their story of re-intersection by saying "The story is very much akin to a Hallmark After School movie wherein one should have an abundance of tissues close at hand." Jonathan not only gave Nancy the love only a child can give, but a wonderful family to fill her final years with much joy. From many streams may mighty rivers flow.
She is survived by her son Jonathan O'Connor and his wife Kimberly Galandak, of North Westminster, VT; grandchildren Hailee, Kiernon, Cassidy and Ciara; her brother Orion II and his wife Carol of West Brattleboro; her sister Elizabeth Houck and her husband Oliver of New Orleans, LA; and her brother Jonathan and his wife Margaret Howes of Cambridge, NY; nephews Nathaniel and Caleb Barber, Cyprian and Gabriel Houck and niece Claire Maxwell; cousins in the Stevens, Howard and DuHamel families and many devoted friends. A special thanks to Jane Southworth, all around best pal and supplier of many a good read.
Saint Michael's Episcopal Church will hold a memorial service on Saturday, February 27 at 4 PM. To attend the service, go to www.stmichaelsvermont.org
and click on the eNews box in the middle of the home page. Scroll down in the eNews until you see the announcement about the Nancy Barber funeral and click on the Zoom link in the announcement.
To share a memory or send condolences to the family please visit www.atamaniuk.com
Her ashes will be interred in the Barber family plot in Bennington's Park Lawn Cemetery later in the spring at the convenience of the family.
Donations in Nancy's memory may be made to Brattleboro Humane Society; Rescue Inc.; Brattleboro Music Center; and Saint Michael's Episcopal Church.