Barbara AlexanderAugust 24, 1956 ~ September 25, 2017 (age 61)
WARREN / MORRISVILLE, VT - Barbara Alexander, 61, a long-time resident of Warren and West Brookfield, passed away on Monday, September 25th, 2017 in Copley Hospital, after a brief illness.
Born in 1956 in Stowe, Vermont, Barbara was the daughter of the late Edward Alexander and Florence (Crawford) Alexander, of Morrisville, VT. In addition to her mother, Barbara leaves her daughter, Heather T. McKusick and her husband, Timothy of Warren as well as their two sons, Tyler Martin and Cody Parker; her brother William “Butch” and his wife Linda of South Burlington, VT, and her brother James and his wife Mary Jo of Scituate. In addition, she leaves two nieces, Karen Roche her husband Jonathan of Scituate, and her niece Aimee Gunnarson and her husband Eben of Marshfield. Barbara also leaves her partner Regan Shultz, of Bennington, VT but now living in Idaho, and her best friend, Mary Anne Matys-Rohde and her husband James of East Brookfield.
Barbara went to Stowe Vermont Public Schools and graduated from Stowe High School in 1974. From there she went to Bridgewater State College, where she majored in Special Education and spent many years volunteering at the Bridgewater State Hospital and with Special Olympics in southeastern Massachusetts. After graduation, she moved to Worcester, MA and worked as a house parent for mentally challenged adults. A few years later, she moved to Dudley and worked as a Special Education teacher at Bay Path Regional School in Charlton. In 1985, she began her longest teaching assignment as the Special Education Teacher at West Brookfield Elementary School, in West Brookfield. She worked in that capacity until her retirement in June, 2016, mentoring many teachers over the last decades.
While teaching in West Brookfield in 1985, Barbara suffered an AVM and had a seizure. After the first of many brain surgeries, and a stint in rehabilitation, she returned to her classroom with a deeper understanding of what it meant to struggle. She exhibited this patient understanding with her special education students from that time until her retirement. To honor her dedication to those students who were most special to her, her coworkers bought a “Buddy Bench” in her name. The bench is at the West Brookfield school playground; students who don’t have anybody to play with can sit there until a friend comes to get them to play. This is exactly what she would have wanted.
Barbara loved her family, and always saw the best in people, especially her students. A patient friend who enjoyed laughing, she was a New York Yankees fan (quite unpopular in this neck of the woods) and enjoying watching all sports on TV, baking, and spending as much time as she could with her grandsons, who they affectionately called “Maw.” She even paid extra to have a special license plate that read “Our Maw,” to reflect what her grandsons meant to her. Her smile made people feel at ease and lit up any room. Barbara was quick to help anyone, with her time, expertise or finances, if it could assist someone in need. People often called Barbara the kindest person that they had ever met.
While Barbara was modest, she was honored for her kindness and generosity. The Greater Worcester Jaycees bestowed their Outstanding Young Leader Award to her, for her work with children in West Brookfield. Additionally, she was a runner-up for the Lucy Stone Award because of all she gave to the community where she taught.
A Funeral Service for Barbara will be held on Saturday, October 7, 2017 at 12:00PM, in the Varnum Funeral Home, 43 East Main St., West Brookfield. Calling hours will be held, from 10:00AM to 12:00PM, prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in Barbara’s memory may be made for her grandsons’ education in the “Maws Boys” account or in the “Mrs. A Kids” account, for special needs students graduating from Quaboag Regional High School. Both contributions can be made to Country Bank, 8 West Main Street, West Brookfield, MA 01585.
Maws Boys account or the Mrs. A Kids account
c/o Country Bank, 8 West Main Street, West Brookfield MA 01585