Although a year of slow decline from end-stage idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis had weakened Barbara Anne Benson Barrall, 88, she retained her signature wit and way of showing how much she cared until her death on January 18, 2024, at Trinity Hospital in New Port Richey, FL.
“Time to sign off. I loved having all of you as friends, but my time is up. Go forth, do good work, and remember, I love you!” was the final message on Barbara Barrall’s Facebook page; posted at her request just after she passed.
Following her 2021 diagnosis and worsening health, Barbara relocated from her long-time residence in South Portland, ME to her daughter Jennifer Hoerle’s home in New Port Richey, where she was cared for by her daughter and son-in-law, Doug Hoerle, and her granddaughter, Andrea Mattern. She never lacked new experiences and memories in Florida with her great-grandson, Troy Mattern, new kitten, Charlie, and many visits from family and friends.
Barbara was born on October 23, 1935, in Oswego, NY, and grew up in Waterford, CT, close to the beach. She graduated with an English degree from Syracuse University following her lifelong love of books and learning. After her marriage to Edward Barrall in Cambridge, MA, Barbara moved to California where they had three children. She loved her work at San Jose State University in the government publications collection.
In 1991, Barbara moved back to her beloved New England to live near the coast in South Portland, ME. She created many happy memories and good friends in the Portland area at First Parish Church, the University of Southern Maine campus gym, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) of the University of Southern Maine (where she felt that she learned half of what she learned in life), South Portland Public Library where she worked part-time and her neighbors. She loved traveling the world with OLLI and Elderhostel (now Road Scholar), often with her younger sister, to England, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and Japan. Her self-proclaimed top three “never” accomplishments were never going to Disneyland, never learning bridge, and never watching Citizen Kane.
Barbara faced her slow decline head-on with the stoicism she inherited from her father and mother, Walter and Beatrice (née Newton) Benson, who predeceased her. Behind the calm resolve was hidden an enormous amount of bravery as she looked past the precipice of the end of her life, and invited her numerous family members to join her in her room at Trinity Hospital to help her celebrate the last moments of her life with music, poetry and love (and some tears).
Forever environmentally inclined, Barbara chose a natural burial at Heartwood Preserve and conservation sanctuary in New Port Richey, FL. To honor her memory, please show your support for your local wildlife and public libraries.
Barbara is predeceased by her parents and her daughter, Anne Beatrice Barrall. She is survived by her son Ted and daughter-in-law Suzanne with granddaughters Lorna and Emma; her daughter Jen and son-in-law Doug with granddaughter Andrea, grandson-in-law Brian, and great-grandson Troy; daughter Katie and grandson-in-law Phoenix; her son Geoff and daughter-in-law Noriko with grandchildren Naomi, Erika, and Ethan; her younger brother Tom with nieces Daisy and Sarah; and her younger sister Bev with nephew Hank.
A celebration of Barbara’s life will be held on May 4 at the Heartwood Preserve in New Port Richey, Florida. If you would like to make a donation in Barbara’s memory, please consider the U.S. Fellowship Homes for Boys (https://usfellowship.org/).