October 29, 1930 – November 26, 2020
Gerry passed away on November 26th. She fought a tough battle with dementia, but, mercifully, her last illness was very brief.
Born in Nanaimo on October 29th, 1930, to Godfrey and Agnes (Taylor) Brown, Gerry was proud of her long family history in the community, and sought to give back wherever she could. An eager volunteer, she was often found in a position of responsibility at Dufferin Place, Meals on Wheels, and anywhere else she could help out.
A devout Anglican, Gerry was baptized and married at St. Paul’s, and was a founding member of St. James. She served in many capacities, and was ready to take on any role that needed to be filled. When St. James closed, she returned to St. Paul’s as a very active member.
She was recognized for her community work, receiving the Nanaimo Citizen of the Year award in 1993. Gerry joined the local Native Daughters group about 70 years ago, and was one of the last of the stalwart members, serving in executive positions to try to keep the group alive, as the membership gradually died off.
As a teen, Gerry worked at the concession in the Civic Arena, and then moved on to checking coats at the Northfield Dances, where she first met Fred Barr.
After graduating from John Shaw High School in 1948, Gerry set aside her wish to be a teacher, and took a business course at St. Ann’s Academy, so that she could get working sooner, and help her family.
She was hired to work in the office at Ryan’s Wholesale, and after leaving the job early in her marriage, she returned regularly whenever they needed extra help. On being hired, Mr. Ryan told his new employee that she would no longer be Geraldine, because that name was too long!
So, her mother’s wish that she always be called Geraldine was overruled, and everyone who knew her after that point called her Gerry. She didn’t mind this change.
Gerry had a long history of taking care of others. Her mother had been disabled after a serious illness, and she looked after her little brothers and took on family responsibilities from a very early age. She was always an organizer, and supported family members through their challenges.
Gerry’s kitchen was always well-stocked, and she enjoyed sharing hospitality. Friends and extended family members have happy memories of Guy Fawkes’ bonfires, as well as many other gatherings.
Gerry is survived by her brothers, Charles and Allan (Sharon), daughters Glenda (Matthew) and Janice, son, Randy (Tammy), as well as grandchildren Tyson (Michelle), Connor, Griffen and Makena. She was predeceased by her husband of 58 years, Fredrick William, in 2012. Through his physical labour and her management skills, they built Fred Barr Bulldozing and Trucking.
They eased out of the business over a period of years, and enjoyed exploring many parts of the world. Travels in their motor home often included Fred’s mother, sister and brother-in-law, as well as other relatives. Particular pleasure was found in numerous visits to the Barr family homestead, Tannybrake, in Northern Ireland, where they formed strong bonds with family. When long flights and hauling luggage about became more difficult, they turned to the comforts of cruising, and enjoyed the ease of this mode of travel, as well as the new friends that they met, from many parts of the globe.
Thanks to the staff at Eden Gardens, who cared for Gerry, and especially for the kind accommodations they made for the immediate family on her last day.
In accordance with Covid protocols, a private family burial was held, with the Church service that Gerry would have wanted when we are able to gather. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice. If a donation doesn’t work for you, please share some kindness in honour of Gerry.
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