After a merchandise training course and graduate work in history, she became Merchandising Director for the Filene’s Branch Stores, a buyer for Lamson & Hubbard, served as Acting Personnel Director and Public Relations Manager at McLean Hospital, worked for the Red Cross Blood Bank, and for the Philadelphia Bulletin’s national advertising department.
Passionate about the arts, Barbara was a co-founder and past president of the Groton Music Association, a founding member and board member of the Groton Center for the Arts, Merrimack Regional Theatre, and Indian Hill Music Center. Co-founder of Friends of the Groton Public Library, she enjoyed the Groton Reading Group, Garden Club, and Woman’s Club. She played the clarinet with great joy, whether it was in the backyard, a trio, Christmas Eve on the church steps, summer concerts on the common with the Harvard Town Band or with the Groton Chowder and Marching Society.
Fluent in French and Italian, Barbara enjoyed travel, entertaining family and friends, her dogs — especially the Doberman rescues, tennis, bridge, the NYT Crossword puzzles, and canoeing on the Nashua and Nissitissit Rivers. She studied memoir writing with a local group and discovered her gift for weaving the very heart and truth of her memories into elegant stories in her own voice. Once she began writing, she deconstructed every defining moment of her life to its very essence and it became a short story as in this account of one of her proudest achievements:
“During World War II colleges across the country encouraged their students to seek defense work during the summers. With so many men leaving for the armed services, women were needed to fill the gap. They were trained and fitted into jobs traditionally thought of as male’s province. My sister, Ann, and I insulated pipes (with asbestos) below the decks on Destroyer Escorts at the Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard in Hingham, MA. Ann and I were chosen as part of a crack team which put together a destroyer escort in 4 1/2 days. We were awarded the Army-Navy “E” for excellence for this unheard of achievement.”
Barbara is survived by sister Rita Russell; daughter Temple Bruner Staples and two sons, John Curtis Bruner and Bradford Calvin Bruner; grandchildren Alexandra Dyan Staples, Kaitlin Amanda Bruner, Kristin Alyssa Bruner, Kathryn Elizabeth Bruner, Blake Austin Bruner, and Maxwell Spencer Bruner; nieces and nephews Marguerite Mayberry Russell Shreve, Daniel Russell IV, Arthur Stuart Hill Jr., Temple Hill Clark, William Franklin Hill, Abby Russell, cousins Parker Pond and Temple Pond. She was predeceased by sisters Ann Temple Hill and Abigail Codman Temple Willard, and nieces Barbara Mead Russell and Abigail Codman Barbour.
A memorial service will be held at the First Parish Unitarian Church, 1 Powderhouse Road, Groton on Saturday, February 1, at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The First Parish Unitarian Church, PO Box 457, Groton, MA, 01450-0457 or Indian Hill Music, PO Box 1484, Littleton, MA, 01460.