Mary (Moore) Barr was the embodiment of an Irish Mother, enjoyed caring for others, worried if everyone is ok, often asking if you had enough to eat. She was the humble type, with a good mix of quick wit and Irish guilt thrown in.
Mary was born Oct 2, 1932 and grew up in North Brighton, she was the 2nd child of 6 to Agnes and James Moore. Her sister Pat recalls a beautiful sister that was carefree, had lots of friends, kind hearted. Her only fault, she didn't know how to say no, just an all-around nice person.
She married Charlie Barr (a handsome Italian boy from the neighborhood} in 1956 and had 7 children in a span of 8 years. They settled in Waltham in 1964. She was a caring, devoted mother, getting up before her kids to prepare breakfast and pack lunches for the day. We always came home to a full home cooked meal, clean laundry and she made sure we were taking care of – Mary was selfless. Her children have fond memories of family excursions in the station wagon - New Hampshire, the Cape, museums, apple picking, Lake Walden, Pleasure Island, Enchanted Village in Boston. Trips were always accompanied with a packed Styrofoam cooler by Mary, often ham and cheese sandwiches, perfectly wrapped in wax paper with hard boiled eggs and cookies. Hard to imagine being so prepared with that many kids. She made motherhood look easy. Mary's desire in life was to give her children everything they needed, to have a wonderful childhood.
Always a hard worker, Mary started her work career at 16 at Hood Rubber to help support her family. She had such strong work ethics we can remember how proud she was later in life when she won an award for not taking any sick days off! And once her kids were all of school age, she went to work for Arkwright Insurance. If you asked Mary her fondest memories it was her time working at Arkwright. Walking to work every morning at 6am, she loved preparing breakfast and lunch for the people who worked in the building. She was very friendly and well liked. While still caring for her large family, she was determined to get her high school diploma which she achieved in early 1981.
Later, she took college classes and eventually got promoted to a Manager position. She retired after 28 years and stayed friends with her coworkers, they became family to her. One of our amazing Arkwright memories, Mary would walk over to another building to deliver the large wad of cash from the day's success, with never a worry, every penny accounted for. We don't know how Mary did it, coming home after working in the Cafeteria and then manage to feed and care for her huge family. We are still in awe of it.
Even though Mary was very busy with raising 7 children, she somehow found time to teach Catechism, was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader. She would be a great help with school art projects because she was a very talented self-taught artist. Mary was always up for an adventure -Disney with the family, mall shopping, musuems, craftshows, exploring Boston, taking classes, spending time with her Grandchildren, traveling, loved old movies, was an avid reader and was hooked on PBS and cooking shows. With her artistic talents, she would draw, paint, sew and knit amazing works of art. She watched Chronicle every night and she didnt make a big deal of it when she showed up in a featured segment about the Waltham Pain Clinic, but we did. She took exercise classes there and they all adored her. She was the oldest one in the class and one said she did better than people half her age.
Mary loved a good gathering. When family would come together, long after the food was eaten and Charlie would retire to watch the news, she would stay right in the mix. She especially enjoyed when the sarcastic humor would fly.
Growing up, many of our holidays were spent with her sister's Pat, Margie and cousin Mary. Such fond memories of a household packed with cousins, lots of running around, tons of food, sitting around the table, young and old just relishing the time together.
Mary and Charlie loved nothing more than to spend time with their Grandchildren, taking them on many local adventures, mostly educational. They all have special memories of Prince and Princess day, where they would get to go to the mall and pick out anything they wanted followed by dinner of their choice. If you wanted to see Mary light up like a Christmas tree, bring a baby around, especially her newest Great-grandson, Leo.
Mary was a self-taught fabulous cook, everything from scratch. People still talk about her eggplant, Sunday Roast beef dinners (oh those crunchy yet soft roast potatoes!) and her fabulous coleslaw. She had that knack of opening the fridge and creating something with whatever she found. Her daughters have sweet memories of cooking together with their mom, she was happy to share her culinary skills.
If Mary was feeling down, one of her kids had a magical way to help and was often called in to "get her Irish up". He would poke and prod, trade back and forth verbal jabs, find out what's bothering her and before you know it, she would be smiling.
In their 70s, a week didn't go by where Mary and Charlie were off to Boston, often with Grandkids in tow. Castle Island followed by a Sullivan's hotdog was their go to. More than anything Mary loved to walk and did the walk for hunger 3 times, once all by herself!
In her 80s, the Waltham Senior Center became her favorite hangout. Hanging with her cousin Mary Farren, they made good friendships and together enjoyed movies, concerts, luncheons, exercise classes, knitting. The staff always made them feel welcome and special.
Growing up in the Barr household, it was noisy and busy, a constant coming and going with all their kids and their kid's friends, grandkids, etc. One friend said it best about Mary "when visiting, your mom always made me feel like I was part of the family". She was the Irish mom in the neighborhood that had a knack to ride the chaos with ease and make you feel welcome. Our friends all loved "Mrs Barr".
Mary would say she wasn't fond of animals, but we would often catch her talking with the visiting dogs and calling out daily "Kitty Little" to the cat that lived with her the last few years of her life. They all took to her gentle touch.
In her last few years, Mary acquired another set of family around her as she was surrounded by her personal caretakers, social workers, nurse, music therapist, spiritual person, PT, OT, who all loved spending time with her. They admired her sweet yet spunky sarcastic wit and were all in awe of her fierce determination to do things herself even when her body wouldn't cooperate.
Mary and her family and friends were blessed to have a beautiful week long celebration of her life while still with us, where they were able to say their goodbyes and share messages of love, thanks, prayers and music. Mary passed peacefully on Friday, October 29th in her home surrounded by love. A private ceremony will take place in Bourne Cemetary, where she will be laid to rest with her husband Charles.
Mary is survived by her devoted children, Jack Barr and Rachael Barr, Peggy Barrasso, Patty Barr and her husband Steve Keylor, Joey Barr and Elaine Anastos, Jimmy Barr and his wife Ann Marie, Maryanne Benns and her husband Bob, Pauline Cahill and her husband John. Also survived by her loving 10 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews, her sister Pat Lally and husband Tom, her brother Michael Moore and her dear cousin Mary Farren.
She is preceded in death by her husband Charles, her sister Margie Mastin and her husband Bob and her brother Billy Moore.
Please share your memories of Mary on the memory board. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mary's memory to: William Stanley Senior Center, 488 Main St, Waltham, MA 02453