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Elizabeth Elizabeth Ellen (Brigham) Barrett

1921 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Elizabeth Elizabeth Ellen (Brigham) Barrett Obituary
Elizabeth Ellen (Brigham) Barrett

• Norwich, CT

Elizabeth Ellen (Brigham) Barrett, A Burlington, VT native of our nation's Greatest Generation, and mother of sixteen children, died peacefully, on September 14, 2017.

Elizabeth, who was known as "Betty," was among the legions of American women who effectively served as stateside soldiers during WWII. A 1943 Middlebury College graduate with a degree in sociology, Betty became a communications dispatcher at the Burlington Vermont National Airport in her hometown. She both received and dispatched aircraft in the important New York to Montreal hub during the war, a non-traditional job for women because, a she put it, the "boys" were all away fighting overseas.

While raising her family, Betty was a pioneering advocate for those who struggle with mental wellness, especially in combatting the stigma too often associated with the disease. In 1976, she helped establish The Reliance House, a mental health respite and wellness center in Norwich, CT. Betty was very much a foundational rock in the civic contributions and various enterprises of her late husband, Frederick C. Barrett, MD (St. Michael's College, 1943, University of VT College of Medicine, 1946), especially in the 1959 development of the then-modern state of the art Summit Convalescent Home in Jewett City, CT. For many years, Betty worked alongside her husband in his general medical practice office. Betty enjoyed longstanding membership in Norwich's historic Fortnightly Study Club. She was a member of the New London County Medical Auxiliary, serving as its president, was a United Community Services board member and participated in various other civic organizations. Betty enjoyed playing bridge, swimming, and golf. In her later years, Betty's mind often turned to golden memories of Burlington, and the beautiful landscape of the Northern Vermont of her childhood, and of her parent's English ancestors, who were among the first immigrant settlers of Burlington, VT. She was especially proud of her father, Clark Brigham, the decades-long President of Burlington's Merchants National Bank, and his commitment to social and civic causes, and he was equally proud of her. When Betty was selected the 1939 Burlington High School Citizen of the Year by the Daughters of the American Revolution local chapter, her father displayed Betty's award medallion on a gold chain attached to his pocket watch. Betty often remembered her Middlebury College years, and her proud association with the TriDelta Sorority. She recounted a summer working at the former Inn at the Summit of Mount Mansfield, hiking the "Camel's Hump," and of her time in the renowned Middlebury College "Chateau" residence and dining hall, where only French speaking was allowed. She was particularly fond of her iconic uncle Wallace Coburn, a WWI veteran and a nine-term Vermont state legislator from Belvidere, and her Aunt Della Calvert, a schoolteacher and

role model.

Betty and her husband, with his medical practice and large family established a "family practice" over the years of a type that few have undertaken. There were 16 Barrett children born in the years that followed and 12 survive Betty: Barbara Bloom of Shelburne, VT; Lawrence William of Norwich; Robert Michael (Betty Lou) of Wichita, KS; Frederick C. Jr. (Kathleen) of New London; Kathleen (Dennis) Wehmeyer of Midland, TX; Lois (Robert) Huntington of New London; Stephen Clark (Betsy) of Lisbon; Christopher Calvert of Norwich; Matthew Vincent (Elizabeth Hamilton) of Old Lyme; Elizabeth (John) Bracchitta of Nashua, NH; Theresa (Steven) Levy of Wellesley, MA; and Jane (Ron) Peterson of Boise, ID; and beloved sisters Lois Selnau of Farmington and Nancy Eldridge of Phoenix, AZ. Betty leaves 28 adoring grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. In addition to her husband, four children predeceased Betty: Edmund James; Anne M. Rapalje (Dan); Thomas Edson, and Timothy John; her parents, Clark and Ethel Brigham and brothers, Richard and Lyman Brigham, and grand-daughter, Hope Irene Bracchitta.

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Published in The Burlington Free Press on Oct. 1, 2017
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