Mary Jewell Longyear Barber
Mary was born in Terre Haute, Indiana where she grew up with her brothers and parents. Mary loved music and was an accomplished pianist and harpist. Much of her youth was spent on the piano bench perfecting her craft, and while she played mostly classical music, she had a love for all types of music. Music was always one of the joys of her life and she found particular happiness in her final years in songs from the 50’s.
She attended Stephen’s College in Columbia, Missouri where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Music. After she finished college, she embarked on the adventure of a lifetime with her best friend Corky by going to Hawaii. They ended up staying there for a year. This bravery and adventurous nature inspired the desire to travel in all four of her children. After Hawaii, she moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she started working at an accounting firm and met the love of her life, Jack Barber. She always told the story that she did not like him much at first because he was too bossy. Jack won her over in the end and they got married on September 10, 1966. This started a true love story that lasted 53 years.
For 11 years, Mary and Jack lived in West Hartford, CT with their children. Mary nurtured a vibrant, caring, and passionate environment for her family and neighbors. Her Christmas Eve parties were the celebration of the season and continue to be treasured memories for many. She was responsible for creating lots of favorite recipes for friends and family; such that she ultimately wrote a cookbook. Because of the person she was, the cookbook was just as much about the family stories and events associated with the recipes, as it was about food. Mary and Jack spent as much time together as they could and enjoyed playing cards, particularly Bridge. There was even a brief stint of square dancing on Friday nights.
Her kids always had a champion in their mother. For her children, Mary was a constant, strong, and loving mother who was always on their side. Mary was a voracious reader and took her kids to the library weekly and gave them the freedom and desire to embrace all types of books. She is responsible for her children’s love for reading and learning. All of her children have advanced degrees, likely due to her encouragement to experience and learn as much as possible.
Mary famously said the only way she was ever leaving West Hartford was in a pine box, but life intervened and the family returned to the St. Louis area and lived in Chesterfield for 30 years (incidentally she was given a pine box as a going away present). Mary was always passionate about caring for others and once her kids were grown, she devoted her time to charitable endeavors. In particular, for 25 years she volunteered with the Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary. She received the highest honor and was given the Evangeline Booth Merit Award. Finally Mary and Jack moved to Meramec Bluffs in 2014.
Everyone knows that Mary had to wait way too long for grandkids but when they finally came, she was overjoyed. She was able to share her unconditional love and delighted in saying how grandmothers could spoil the grandkids and then could drop them off back home. One of the blessings of the last month of her life was being able to play the piano with her grandsons.
It is no surprise to her family that she decided to leave for heaven at Christmastime. Mary truly loved the magic of Christmas and every year created a holiday wonderland for her family. Her family will always feel her spirit strongly during the holidays. Mary was the life of the party, generous to a fault, the ultimate entertainer, and had a great sense of humor. She was one of a kind and was loved deeply.
Mary is survived by her husband Jack; daughters Ruth, Mary (Peter Roccaforte), and Rebecca (James Betzold); son John (Jennifer McGough); grandchildren Samuel, Josephine, Maxwell, Jenavieve, and Jasper; as well as her brother William Longyear (Virginia). Contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Services: Visitation and funeral service will be held on Friday, December 27 at Meramec Bluffs Chapel, 1 Meramec Bluffs Drive, Ballwin, Missouri 63021. Visitation at 10:00 a.m. with the service to follow at 11:00 a.m. Interment Pittsfield West Cemetery, Pittsfield, Illinois.