Photography

Barbara Chapman

December 1, 1929 ~ March 5, 2022 (age 92)

Tribute

Barbara Chapman, a longtime resident of Westerly, died at home, on Saturday, March 5, 2022, after a second courageous battle with cancer. Born in Providence on December 1, 1929, she was the daughter of Frank, Sr. and Mary Viola “Vi” Malone Chapman. Barbara attended Providence schools until she was about to enter the fourth grade. At that time the family moved to Warwick Neck, and Barbara transferred to Warwick schools just in time to greet the infamous Hurricane of 1938! Apparently weather news was sketchy in those days and Barbara and her brothers thought that Warwick simply had much stronger storms than Providence had had. Barbara was down on the beach playing at a friend’s house, amidst the winds and torrential rains, when her father and her brother Frank came along calling her name and searching frantically for her. They obviously wanted to get her home quickly, as they had learned of the hurricane’s imminent landfall.

Barbara was a graduate of St. Xavier Academy and Salve Regina College. She completed her graduate studies in Educational Administration and Anthropology at Rhode Island College.

Barbara was the ultimate student-centered educator, always thinking of new and different ways to reach students who had various learning styles. She never believed that only one way of presenting new topics would work for every student. Barbara taught at the Tyler School in Providence, RI and at St. Patrick School in Valley Falls, RI before being named principal of the former St. Peter School in Greenville, RI. She then served as principal of the Immaculate Conception School, in Westerly, RI, from 1967 to 1973. Barbara completed the last twenty-one years of her teaching career at the Richmond Elementary School in Richmond, RI, where she was well known for her dedication to her students and for her newly acquired and well-loved alter-ego, “The Blond Bombshell”! The Blond Bombshell appeared every Halloween, in various situations such as at leisure, as a rock star, on safari, in the garden, on an archeology dig, on shipboard, etc. The Blond Bombshell also appeared at various retirement banquets and at other special Richmond School occasions. The blond wig and the long pink boa became quite well known and eagerly welcomed. No one could quite figure out how Barbara managed to change her walk and her entire demeanor so drastically, but her performances were always “big hits “!

Barbara had many interests. She was a voracious reader and she had a great deal of talent for writing. She loved gardening and, until her very last year or two, she maintained beautiful gardens. During her last few years, Barbara welcomed the help of Karen Discuillo in maintaining her lovely gardens. Barbara also enjoyed flower arranging, painting, pottery, glass-blowing, Tai’chi, and she had several other interests, as well. Barbara rescued numerous dogs and cats over the years.
Barbara enjoyed traveling. She especially liked Ireland, Bermuda, parts of the Caribbean, Canada, the Finger Lakes, Niagara, and many other beautiful and peaceful places.

Barbara was pre-deceased by her parents and her three brothers: Frank Chapman of Warwick Neck, RI, Everett Chapman and his wife, Georgette of Warwick, RI, and Richard Chapman of Palm Coast, FL. She was also pre-deceased by several aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Barbara is survived by her sister-in- law, Toni Chapman, of Exeter, NH, two nieces: Kim and Tom Asacker of Exeter, NH, and Kyle Chapman of Exeter, NH; two nephews: Neil and Wendy Chapman of Richmond, RI, and Joseph and Christine Chapman of Pelham, NH. She is also survived by four grandnieces: Alexandra Asacker of Salem, MA, Andie Asacker of Bristol, VT, Sarah Chapman of Pelham, NH, Lauren Chapman of Montpelier, VT, god-daughter, Stacy Lynne Moody of Pawcatuck, CT, two very special groups: the Tai’chi Ladies and the Richmond School Retirees, and several other very dear friends.

Many thanks to Job Sandoval, MD, for his decades of caring service as Barbara’s primary care physician, and to Robert Legare, MD, for his expertise, his caring, and his compassion during both of Barbara’s battles with cancer. Profound thanks to Dorrinne, Lee, Marie, and Marilyn (in alphabetical order), from the Tai’chi group for their supreme degree of support, giving an entire day each week to providing rides to cancer treatments, waiting for test results, keeping Barbara company during treatments, shopping and picking up mail afterward, and adding nearly daily phone calls from one or the other to boost her spirits. Special thanks to Barbara, from the Richmond Retirees group, who came every Sunday and Thursday afternoon to get or to do whatever was needed. Thanks to so many other members of both the Richmond Retiree and the Tai’chi groups for the lovely flowers, for always remembering Barbara’s “sweet tooth,” and for the soups, the jam, the rides, the shopping, the cards, the phone calls, and for so many other gifts. Perhaps the most important gift was the overwhelming gift of your caring. Many thanks to a lovely couple, Rebeca and Austin, who rescued Barbara at the Hartford Health building as she was trying to call a taxi, who drove her home, who came by the house the next day with a wonderfully comforting “care package,” and who offered their services any time she might need them. Special thanks, indeed, are due to Barbara’s nephew, Neil, whose weekly visits included everything from assembling the sit-down battery powered scooter that gave Barbara so much extra freedom at home, to washing the kitchen floor! There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to praise the wonderful people from Hope Hospice! Sincere thanks to John Weeden and the staff at the Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home for their friendly, professional, and compassionate care. It has been said many times, in recent years, that “It takes a village …” for a variety of things in our present society. It definitely “takes a village” to help a very ill individual through the end of life with dignity and grace.

Spreading random acts of kindness, during these crazy days, would definitely be one of the best ways to honor Barbara's memory. Another might be a donation to one of her favorite charities: The WARM Center, 56 Spruce Street, Westerly, RI 02891, www.warmcenter.org; The Jonnycake Center of Westerly, 23 Industrial Drive, Westerly, RI. 02891, www.jonnycake.org; Friends of The Westerly Animal Shelter, 33 Larry Hirsch Drive, Westerly, RI. 02891; or The Rhode Island Community Food Bank, 200 Niantic Avenue, Providence, RI. 02907, www.rifoodbank.org.

A celebration of Barbara’s life is being planned for 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 7, at the Shelter Harbor Inn, 10 Wagner Road, Westerly, RI. Please plan to join us in remembering the funny, happy things that made Barbara special to so many people.

Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home, 121 Main St. Westerly, RI will be assisting the family with arrangements.

For online condolences, please visit www.buckler-johnston.com

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