On July 29th, 1931, in the midst of a Bronx swelter, Barbara McCarthy was born to Hubert McCarthy and Florence Cooper, the second of three children, and only daughter.
To call their childhood modest would be an exercise in charity, yet despite a jackpot of hardship, the siblings grew in an affection that has endured to this day. While her brothers went abroad in military service - Fred in the Army, to Germany, and Albert in the Air Force, to Southeast Asia, Barbara rode the Lexington Avenue subway to midtown Manhattan, where in the spire shadows of St Patrick’s Cathedral, she met a character from the borough of Queens who would alter her life, and she his. The skinny desperado’s name was, Bill Kelleher.
After several rebuffs, the Irishman’s charm and perseverance was rewarded with a date, which led to another, to courtship, engagement, and marriage. The day after they exchanged vows Bill was off to Korea. Each day, as he crawled through the mud, and resisted sleep in the freezing outdoor air, Barbara would use her lunch break to cross Fifth Avenue, and in the cathedral’s Chapel of our Lady, pray for his safe return. Return he did, and the couple began their life together in the Parkchester area of The Bronx.The two bonded in a mutual need to provide for others that of which they themselves had been deprived. So, without compass, Barbara and Bill set out with Love as their guide, and before long, two sons were added to the annals of human history.
In time, the family moved from Barbara’s native Bronx to the Emerald Isle of Staten, with later stops in New Mexico, New Jersey, and Texas, before settling in Maryland where Barbara completed her GED, and subsequently a BA at UMBC. As a social worker, Barbara proved a tireless advocate for her elder clients at Charlestown Care Center, beloved by residents and colleagues alike. On April 10th, 1986, Barbara, her family, and friends, were rocked by the sudden death of Bill, the love of her life. While the wound remained, she pressed on with her work, buoyed by the love of her family, taking regular trips with her dear friends Ann and Hughie Prentice. Through son Bill and daughter-in-law, Lisa, Barbara was blessed with grandchildren Jennifer and Christopher - the proverbial apple of her eye.
The last few years saw steady decline in health, but not spirit, and Barbara took great pleasure in the companionship of an extraordinary family of neighbors: George and Neuza Strobel, Tom Simpers, Dolly and Dixit Shah, Carrie and Dave Zeleznick, Diane and Pat Thomas, Mike Mashburn, Paul Gussack, Leslie and Donny Faulkner, Terry and Theresa Reed, Inel Hughes, and Marianne Dias - all of whom enriched her life while keeping a loving, ever watchful eye on her. Barbara’s final days were split between care provided by Gilchrist Hospice - first at home, with the heroic support of Helen and Ed Kelleher, and then at Gilchrist’s inpatient center in Towson, a sanctuary of compassionate care.
Barbara is survived by brothers, Frederick and Albert, their children, Fred, John, Michael, Edward and Sherry, Ed and Helen Kelleher, their sons, Michael, Chris, and Sean, grandchildren Jennifer Marie and Christopher Kelleher, daughters-in-law, Lisa Berzonsky Kelleher, and Willa Rose Livingston, as well as sons, Bill and Tim.
Barbara’s life will be celebrated during a 4-7 pm visitation Sunday at Donaldson Funeral Home, Clarksville, MD, with a Panakhyda memorial service at 6pm led by His Grace, Bishop Andriy Rabiy, and a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Louis Church, Clarksville, on Monday at noon. Interment to follow at St. Louis Church Cemetery.