1947 - 2021
Burke & Blackington Funeral Home
1479 Washington St
West Newton, MA
BARBER, Peter Kennard Beloved Husband, Father and Grandfather; Dedicated Volunteer Peter Kennard Barber, of Jamaica Plain, died of metastatic melanoma on May 8th with his family by his side. He was 73. Born on December 8th, 1947, in Denver, Colorado, Peter grew up on Army posts from the Canal Zone to Kansas, and in 1958 moved with his mother and three siblings to Charleston, South Carolina. He graduated from Mount Hermon School in 1965 and Harvard College in 1970, where he played varsity lacrosse and was a member of the Owl Club. On June 6th, 1970, Peter married Marygrace Davie and they settled in Boston and then Newton, where they raised their two sons, Christopher and Matthew. In 1971, having seen an article in the Boston Globe about a fledgling real estate company pioneering the sustainable redevelopment of rural New England properties, especially old summer camps and farms, Peter secured an interview with the firm's founder, Bob Danziger, and landed the job. After a long-scheduled and extended European honeymoon with Marygrace, he began at Northland Investment Corporation in the spring of 1972. Early in his work at Northland, Peter fell in love with, acquired property on, and began spending weeks at an old lakefront all-girls camp in Maine that he was involved with redeveloping. It would become a lifelong destination. He and Marygrace built a house on the property in 2003 using reclaimed timbers from an old typewriter factory; the home is now powered by a recently installed solar tracker. For years, he was a steward of the lake and its water quality. When Northland moved into commercial real estate development, Peter led those efforts and -- following a theme -- focused primarily on the renovation and reuse of existing buildings. With Northland's reorganization in 1995, Peter formed Northland Development Corporation, and in 2001 merged with New Boston Fund to act as its development arm before retiring in 2009. Throughout his professional career, he loved the often complex logistical challenges of real estate, and excelled at solving them, but he often mentioned that the most rewarding aspects of his job were the personal relationships he developed. Retirement allowed more time and travel, both for golf -- a game he deeply loved and respected -- and bird watching, a hobby he shared with Marygrace which took them around the world, from Florida to Antarctica, South Africa, Central America and the Amazon, Norway, the Galapagos Islands, and Cuba. Both before and after retirement, Peter dedicated his energy to many charitable and community organizations, including the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, where he served on the board and was active with its Olmsted Tree Society; Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where he was vice-chair for a period and is now trustee emeritus; the Newton Community Development Foundation; as a member of the Facilities and Capital Planning Committee advising the Harvard Corporation; the Massachusetts Audubon Council; the Pleasant Lake/Parker Pond Association as past President; and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Waban, where he was a member of the Vestry and served as Junior Warden. He also served on the Board of Governors of The Country Club in Brookline, where he was vice chair of the 1999 Ryder Cup and the head of Ecology (which he referred to as "trash and toilets") at the 1988 U.S. Open. Peter most enjoyed giving his time and effort toward connecting with individuals, whether helping oversee alumni admission interviews for Harvard College applicants, reading to students at the Dr. Catherine Ellison/Rosa Parks Early Education School in Mattapan, or mentoring and providing companionship to fellow melanoma patients. Peter approached his 2015 cancer diagnosis with typical forthrightness, courage and a good measure of humor. As the disease spread in late 2017, he faced the prospect of death head-on. He would remark that the newly opened shower soap may outlast him, but a successful immunotherapy treatment had him still buying "green bananas." In describing his circumstance, he wrote in his 50th Reunion Report: "The experience has not been a battle for me, but a journey, full of spiritual inquiry, examination of lifelong assumptions, a search for common or universal truths and a reach back to what is really important. Much has been learned and as I reconstitute my life and find replacements for activities that now are beyond reach, I am exploring widely. Among the places I will carefully search is deep in my heart. I have come to recognize gratefulness. I am grateful certainly for the additional time on this planet, but much more importantly to have existed at all." Those closest to Peter will always remember his sense of humor, youthful spirit, winning smile, and the twinkle in his eye. His ability to draw laughter from the occasional joke or prank was exceeded only by the warmth and comfort all felt in his presence. Even in his final years, as his circle of activities gradually diminished, he maintained that youthful twinkle. His family and friends will hold dear the wisdom he imparted often toward the end of his journey: be grateful, and be kind. Peter is beloved and will be deeply missed by his wife of 50 years, Marygrace, his son Christopher and his wife Jessica, his son Matthew and his wife Melinda, and their four adored and adoring grandchildren: Otis, Elizabeth, Revere and Amelia, all of the Boston area; by siblings Kit O'Neill of Seattle, Robert of Cambridge and Frank of Colorado Springs; by half-sister Jennifer Phillips of Eugene; by sister-in-law Lesley DeVoe of Tinton Falls; and by a large extended family and multitude of friends. Memorial donations may be made to Mass. Audubon, designated to the Boston Nature Center, online at or by mail to Mass Audubon's Boston Nature Center, 500 Walk Hill Street, Mattapan, MA 02126. Burke & Blackington

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Published by Boston Globe from May 11 to May 12, 2021.
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7 Entries
Dear Marygrace- We are so sorry to hear of Peter's passing. I feel grateful I had a recent conversation with him here at the Town Office. He sill be remembered fondly. Best to you and your family- Anne and Glenn
Glenn and Anne Pastore
June 28, 2021
You do not know me nor did your husband directly. My best friend Debbie was Peter’s cancer buddy. I cannot tell you how much Peter’s words of wisdom and friendship meant to Debbie and indirectly to me. Debbie was many times overwhelmed by her illness (no doubt Peter was sometimes as well) and Peter’s calm and knowing and inspirational thoughts were and are so important to Debbie. I know she will never forget his support and will always hold his thoughts dear. I have read Peter’s obituary and he was truly a wonderful and amazing man. I am so sorry for your loss. I just wanted you to know that Peter touched people he didn’t even know. For the last year, I have thanked God for him and how he helped my best friend. Debbie is heartbroken about his passing but so thankful she had the opportunity to know your wonderful husband. I will say a prayer for you and your family. Again, I am so sorry for your loss.

Debra Dodds
May 24, 2021
Love, Heather & Jim
May 18, 2021
- BHS 98
May 14, 2021
April and Scott Robinson
May 14, 2021
Dear Marygrace. It pains me to learn of Peter’s passing. My heart goes out to you and your family. When I was Bob Danziger’s Secretary at the inception of Northland Investment, Bob informed me that he hired a young man named Peter Barber. After your European honeymoon, Peter walked in the door with that boyish smile, & sweet demeanor. With all of his talents and business savvy, he was never taken with himself; just a kind, sweet & gentle person, and always willing to help.
The last time I spoke to Peter was in January. Even with his health issues looming, he was still so optimistic and accepting. He’s one of the finest people I’ve ever known. It was an honor to know him, & a pleasure to work with him.

I sincerely hope that your plethora of memories will forever sustain & comfort you.

Rena Green
Delray Beach, Fl
Rena Green
May 12, 2021
It is with great sadness that I write this , Marygrace, of your tremendous loss. I was Bob Danziger’s Secretary when he hired Peter . After your honeymoon, I was introduced to the newest member of Northland. It was an honor not only to know him, but to have the pleasure of working with him. He was one of the finest people I’ve ever known. With all of his talents & business savvy, he was so kind, & not taken with himself. I always would look forward to seeing him with his big smile & twinkle in his eye. The last time I spoke with him was January, & I was taken aback by his positive attitude & acceptance of his health issues.
Mary grace, my sincerest hope is that your plethora of beautiful memories will sustain you .

As ever,

Rena Cone Shapiro-Green
Delray Beach , Fl
Rena Cone Shapiro Green
May 12, 2021
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