2017-02-03 / Obituaries

Barbara Donaghy

Barbara Donaghy, 98, of Kennebunkport and Kennebunk, died on Jan. 21, long past her body’s “best used by date,” freeing her indomitable spirit to swim and play again. She was born in March of 1918 in Winscombe, England, the fourth child of William Ronald Temple Bourne and Evelyn Rose Wills Bourne.

She grew up in Clifton, Bristol, and was educated at Clifton High School, where she excelled in sports and was captain of the cricket, field hockey and swim teams. She gained admittance to Westfield College, London University and graduated with a BA in modern language, with a major in German and minor in French.

World War II had a profound and lasting effect on her life. During the three summers before the war (1937, ‘38 and ‘39), she spent time with a family in Berlin, in order to develop her German language skills.

She witnessed firsthand the early Nazi activity and developed life-long friendships with the family. Her college was evacuated to Oxford when the London bombings began and she took her finals while Dunkirk evacuees were streaming through English railroad stations.

She then took a job as meetings officer with the Minister of Information, based in Bristol and later in Plymouth.

Air raids were frequent in Bristol and she would often be cycling home through rubble and past blazing buildings. She was in Plymouth during the build up for D-Day and after, and could hear the gunfire across the Channel. It was during this time that she met her future husband, Bill Donaghy, a chaplain in the U.S. Army.

After the war, she put her German and French language skills to use, working for the Military Government, Controlled Commission for Germany. She was based in Berlin and later in Hamburg, working with the German people and Quadripartite Committees on the re-construction of Germany.

She was the secretary at the meeting in Berlin of the Regional Reorganization (British, Russian, French and American) when they abolished Prussia. In early 1948, she was reacquainted with the U.S. Army chaplain that she met during the war, now a captain in the Chaplains’ Corps. and they were married in November at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Future postings included Austria, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Fort Richardson Alaska and Fort Belvoir Virginia. She was the perfect Army and chaplain’s wife, playing many supportive roles in church life, and also welcoming parishioners into her home to nourish them with food as Bill nourished their souls.

They built many lifelong friends together, many of whom she was still corresponding with until just recently. After retiring from the Army in 1963, they were at St. Paul’s School in Garden City, New York for two years, and then moved to the Church Farm School, Paoli Pennsylvania.

In 1972, they retired and became permanent residents of Kennebunkport, having summered there almost every year since 1953.

In 2000, Barbara made the decision to move to the Huntington Common Senior Living complex in Kennebunk, where she resided until her death.

More than anything, Barbara loved to be outdoors and actively enjoying life. She gardened, she played tennis and paddle tennis, she walked, she loved to go to the beach (and actually swim), and she was a regular member, until a few years ago, of the Body Wise pool exercise program at the University of New England. And she loved to travel. She was a body in motion, and when she did need to sit, she would always be knitting or mending, never idle.

Her home was always open for family, who were welcome whenever they called, and she would be delighted to feed them and house them. She particularly enjoyed visits with her granddaughters, and in more recent years, visits with her great grandsons.

Above all, Barbara was fiercely independent and throughout her life showed tremendous courage and strength. And regardless of what obstacles life threw at her, she remained cheerful and calm throughout.

Barbara was predeceased by her parents and brothers and sister, and by her husband. She is survived by her son Michael Donaghy and wife Victoria of Kennebunkport, her daughter Ann Donaghy and spouse Nancy Gunzelmann of Yarmouth, her granddaughter Caitlyn Bickford and husband Alex Bickford of Barrington New Hampshire, her granddaughter Meaghan Parrish and husband Bradford Parrish of Hampton New Hampshire, great grandsons Kyle Letourneau, Jackson Bickford and Colton Parrish, Victoria’s daughters Jaimee Ruccolo and Tara Reardon and husband David Reardon, and also many much loved nieces and nephews in England.

A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at St. David’s Episcopal Church, Kennebunk.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. David’s Episcopal Church, 138 York St., Kennebunk, ME 04043.

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