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Barbara Harrison Kennedy passed away Wednesday, January 31, 2007, at home in Shelburne after a long illness. She is survived by her husband Keith, daughters Georgia, Emma and Rachel, and her sister Nadine Gulino and brother Robert Harrison and their families. She was predeceased by her sister Gail Harrison and her parents Fran and Hurshel Harrison.
Barbara was born on September 25, 1955, in Hackensack, New Jersey, and followed her sister Gail to Vermont in the late 1970s. She married Keith Kennedy on September 13, 1981, and they built their home in East Warren where they raised three daughters.
Like many Valley transplants of the 1970s, Barbara held many jobs, from pastry chef to internet technology coordinator, from woodworker to elementary school cook. A tireless volunteer at her children's school, she tilled a garden and raised chickens, living the localvore life long before it had that name. Those who remember the Warren Store bakery tucked behind the deli in a corner the size of a closet may remember her there, or managing the deli. She was the cook at the original Mexican Night at Beggar's Banquet, and worked at the original Phoenix Restaurant preparing gourmet desserts. She was an assistant chef at the Warren Elementary School, and returned to work in more recent years as an IT specialist at Controlled Energy Corporation in Waitsfield.
Barbara had immeasurable skills outside the traditional workplace. Much of the time she stayed home raising her girls, she 'kept house.' Keeping house to Barbara meant changing the location of a staircase, adding a room, or building a deck. 'Housekeeping tools' included a chainsaw, nail apron, anvil and lathe. She was a talented artist and painter-composing an oil painting of one of her beautiful daughters one day, and then constructing a stone wall to complement her perennial garden. She was a ready friend in a less-than-traditional way: showing up with jumper cables and toolbox if one had car problems, or extending an invitation to do competitive <MI>New York Times<D> crosswords on a Sunday morning over coffee. She was a gracious hostess, gourmet cook, sailor and pianist, and had a skilled eye for determining treasures from trash at flea markets. She returned to painting when she was ill, honing this talent to the end.
She was a rare blend of intellect, talent and modesty, and few knew the extent of her abilities. She was witty, sardonic, sensible, tender, industrious, resourceful, generous and self-effacing. She devoted herself in a quiet but steadfast way to issues of social justice in the workplace, school and community. She was not afraid to take a stand.
The place she really made her mark, her greatest life work was her family. She was a compassionate, honest and respectful mother, offering her children the opportunity to explore many creative areas: sports, music, art, theater and more. She kept her expectations high while supporting and nurturing great skill and talent in all her girls. She leaves a great legacy, and life here will not be the same without her.
The family encourages donations in Barbara's memory to be sent to Hospice of the Champlain Valley, care of the Visiting Nurse Association, 110 Prim Road, Colchester, VT 05446. A celebration of Barbara's life will be planned for the spring or summer at a time and date to be announced.