If you were lucky enough to spend time with Barbara Cameron, you walked away feeling special. She made you feel you mattered, she was always generous with her time and energy, she truly wanted to know how you and your family were doing.
Barbara was born in Watham, Massachusetts May 20th, 1929. She was the youngest of three children born to Dorothy and Duncan Cameron from Lockeport and Willowdale, Nova Scotia respectively.
Barbara grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts with her big sister Helen and bigger brother Roger. They fought as children over clothes, their parents’ affections and who got stuck in the middle seat on long car rides every summer to visit family in Nova Scotia. But those sibling squabbles turned into the strongest of bonds. Roger died in his 50’s after traveling the world with his work for the Badger Company. When Helen married John Spuria, Barbara gained a beloved brother-in-law and later five nieces and nephews: Stephanie, Joann, Eddie, Jack and Bruce. Barbara delighted in watching them grow and even after she moved across the country, she spent long hours on the phone with Helen every Sunday, talking about everything the kids did and laughing. Later, they would talk about everything the grandkids did and laugh some more. When they would see each other on trips to the East Coast, Barbara and brother- in- law John would link arms and walk into a restaurant or other place John and Helen frequented. Barbara pretended to be Helen and would talk with someone John and Helen knew, until Helen would walk in, and they’d reveal their ruse and all start laughing. Barbara was always so happy. If she wasn’t, she’d never let you know.
Barbara married James Griffith in the late 1950’s. They enjoyed sailing together and seeing the Boston Pops. In 1962, Barbara and James had a daughter Nancy. They would divorce three years later. Ever independent and wanting to do things her own way, Barbara put Nancy in backseat of her convertible Mustang and drove across country to start a new life.
Barbara was a devoted, loving mother. She never remarried because she always put her daughter first. Barbara loved enough for two parents, making sure Nancy never felt she only had one. On Sundays, they would ride their bikes to breakfast. She made the best macaroni and cheese. Though she had to work long hours to support them, Barbara always saved energy and enthusiasm for her daughter. Barbara and Nancy had a relationship to envy… walks on the beach which was one of Barbara’s favorite places, lunches together, near daily talks on the phone. Barbara was always there to guide, to listen, to show she cared. She was a shining example of what is means to be a loving mom. Nancy’s friends begged Barbara to adopt them.
When Nancy married, Barbara gained a son-in-law she loved so much. She always said if she had to chose between Manhal and Nancy, it would be a tough decision. She glowingly praised his cooking skills and was especially fond of his lemon cake. She loved his family and called them her own, doting over the kids in the family, always interested in their lives, always there at family functions with a twinkle in her eye and kind word to say.
To have friends, you have to be one and Barbara was a wonderful friend. She nourished her friendships over the years by always picking up the phone to brighten someone’s difficult day, by offering to help and really meaning it, by remembering little things, like someone liked a certain comic strip and cutting it out to send their way. Everyone who knew Barbara couldn’t help but love her.
Barbara was also a career woman. She worked for 40 years in the banking industry, at Gibraltar Savings and Loan, later American Savings and Loan where she spent most of her career. She rose to the ranks of manager in a day when women were rarely given those positions. Her hard work, great attitude and belief that ‘complaining gets you nowhere’ helped her succeed. Banking suited her well because she was able to work with people. She was truly a ‘people person.’
Barbara retired about the same time she learned she was about to become a grandmother. It would be such a perfect role for her. Barbara who then became known as Gamma, went to every baseball, basketball, football and soccer game her grandson Matthew played. She attended her granddaughter Alexa’s ballet recitals, horse shows and soccer games. She was a fixture at school plays and birthday parties. She was ever present in her grandchildren’s lives making sure they realized how very special they were to her. She was ‘Gamma’ to all Matthew and Alexa’s friends.
Barbara died peacefully in her sleep in her home on December 12, 2012. She suffered from heart problems, though you would never have known it by the spring in her step and smile on her face. Her doctor says she most likely succumbed to a heart attack or stroke.
Gamma leaves behind her daughter Nancy, her granddaughter Alexa, her grandson Matthew, her son-in law Manhal, her nieces Joann Young and Stephanie Frank, her nephews Jack and Bruce Spuria. Along with her grandnieces and nephews Dave, Cris, Billy, Brendan, Dan, Tracy, Melissa, Michael, Leah and Anthony and her great grandneices and nephews JT, Hanna, Cate, Sam, Ben, Caleb, Cameron and Colin.
Barbara Cameron was a class act with a loving heart, a bright spirit and gift for making people know they mattered.