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Barbara Brennan, 85

by | Feb 18, 2024 | Obituaries

Barbara Brennan

Barbara Brennan

Barbara A. Brennan (Smith), 85, of Hopkinton and formerly of New Bedford, Newton and Dartmouth, passed away Feb. 15 in Natick, in the loving care of Mary Ann Morse Health Care Center and Good Shepherd Hospice.

She was the beloved wife of the late John J. Brennan (retired, Newton Police Department), the loving mother of Natalie Brennan and spouse Jennifer Brown of Putney, Vermont, Elizabeth Rosen of Dartmouth, Timothy Brennan and spouse Kimberly of Hopkinton, Delia Brennan of Fall River, Nora Cuphone and spouse Dan of Newton, and William Brennan and spouse Mary Treseler of South Dartmouth. She is survived by her sister, Alice Larson of Dartmouth, and was predeceased by siblings Martha Sullivan, Margaret O’Neil, Catherine Griffin, Mary Smith, Eleanora Fontaine, Natalie Arnett, Peter, Winifred, Theresa, Alexander and Shirley Smith. She was the loving grandmother of Hannah, Eleanor and Katherine Rosen; Jack, Ryan and Sarah Brennan; and Will and Jane Cuphone. She was the beloved daughter of the late Alexander and Nora (Davis) Smith. She also is survived by many nieces and nephews.

She also is survived by, and her life was enriched by, four incredibly kind and wise women who shared their friendship, care and love with Barbara in her last few years and months: Heather C., Lisa F-C., Jane M. and Georgia, Good Shepherd Hospice nurse. Like many women of her generation, Barbara had many roles according to her relationships to others: daughter, sister, aunt, wife, daughter-in-law, mom, mother-in-law and grandmother. She revered her own mother, Honora Mercedes Davis Smith, or “Dodie.” She loved telling stories about her father, Alexander “Sandy” Smith, a fisherman in New Bedford who owned the Wamsutta, an 83-foot scalloper. She had wonderful and often colorful relationships with her many sisters, and missed her brothers who moved away early.

Barbara graduated in 1959 from New Bedford High School, where she was on the Student Council, pep squad and Class Steering Committee. During high school, she worked at Star Store in New Bedford. Afterwards, she moved to Waltham to live with her sister and brother-in-law, Kay and Ray. Barbara worked at a bank in Newton and would frequent the Cottage Donut shop, where she met Patrick O’Dea, a cousin of Jack Brennan. Legend has it that Barbara would miss the bus and hang out at the donut shop late to run into Jack after work. Yes, she met her husband, who became a cop, in a donut shop. They were married on June 24, 1961, at Saint Lawrence Church in New Bedford. They lived briefly in Waltham and then moved to Newton, where they raised their six children. Although family mattered first to her, she had many other roles, interests and skills. As a very busy mother of six and wife of a police officer, she still found time to knit for family and friends, run and renovate a large house, and even taught herself to use a computer (in the early ’80s!).

First and foremost, Barbara was a knitter, like her mother. She was very skilled and proud of her creations: Icelandics, Irish knits and original patterns — all written on index cards in her distinctive cursive. Also a talented seamstress, she made clothes for her kids AND their dolls. A DIY-er before there was any HGTV or Home Depot, Barbara took on painting and renovating a hundred-year-old Victorian house on Clyde Street in Newton. She was fearless — scraping paint, wallpapering and building porch stairs, with her children as her work crew. She was an early adopter of the home personal computer, buying her own desktop from Radio Shack. This led to jobs in bookkeeping and eventually volunteer archival work at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Her computer also was a tool for her genealogy research. In 1984, Barbara began researching the Smith, Davis and Murphy families. This became a lifelong passion and a fortunate introduction to a cousin in Newfoundland, Bob Murphy, who was very special to Barbara and shared her love of family history. They were able to visit each other several times in Newfoundland, Massachusetts and Florida, and they traveled to New York to meet even more cousins. Genealogy, to some, is just stories from the past, but it actually creates connections in the present, and these gave Mom great joy.

She was a lifelong fan of the Bruins and a devotee of Dunkin’ Donuts. Barbara loved listening to Irish music, playing cribbage and vacationing on the lakes of New Hampshire and Massachusetts Truly, Barbara’s favorite role was being a grandmother. Her eight wonderful grandchildren, who will always know her as Grammy, or Grams, delighted in her as much as she did in them. The grandkids encouraged and indulged her hidden playful side. Barbara’s children call this her second act, and it was a joy to witness and experience.

Visiting hours will be held at Burke and Blackington Funeral Home, 1479 Washington Street, West Newton, MA 02465 on Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 4-8 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, 573 Washington Street, Newton, at 10:30 a.m. Services will conclude with burial at Newton Cemetery. All are invited to attend. A memorial service for Barbara will be held at a future date and time at St. Mary’s Church in South Dartmouth.

If you have a garment (sweater, hat, scarf, etc.) knitted by Barbara, feel free to wear or bring it to the services, in appreciation of her handiwork and generosity.

In lieu of flowers, the Brennan family asks that donations in Barbara’s memory be made to the MWE Cote Memorial Fund, to support the surviving children of Barbara’s niece, Molly, who recently passed away and whom she fondly cherished. Contributions may be sent or made in person to Bay Coast Bank, 714 Dartmouth Street, South Dartmouth, MA 02748.

Obituaries are submissions, typically from funeral homes, that are not subject to the same level of editorial oversight as the rest of the Hopkinton Independent. Obituaries may be edited for grammatical and factual mistakes and clarifications and shortened for space considerations.


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