Here is a wonderful photograph of my maternal grandparents, Athalia Ogden Barker and Robert Howard Barker, which my cousin Margaret shared with the family this week. Here also is the text of my grandmother's full obituary, which will likely run in edited form in this Sunday's Boston Globe, as well as her local paper:
Athalia Ogden Barker
teacher, family nurturer, and life-long volunteer
Athalia Ogden Barker, formerly of Brookline, MA, died peacefully in Wareham, MA, on November 29, 2007. She was 96. Her husband of fifty-four years, Robert Howard Barker, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Boston for more than four decades, died in 1991.
Born in Elizabeth, NJ, on January 13, 1911, to Margaret Olmsted Ogden and Archibald Gracie Ogden, she was the fourth of five siblings: Margaret Ogden of New York, Esther Henneman of Indian Gap, VA, Archibald Ogden of London, England, and Dayton Ogden of New Canaan, CT, all of whom predeceased her. Their father was a descendant of John Ogden, one of the original settlers of Elizabethtown, NJ, and of Aaron Ogden, a former Governor of New Jersey and President General of the Society of the Cincinnati. On her father’s side she was also descended from the Dayton family of New Jersey and from Archibald Gracie of New York, who constructed the Gracie Mansion as his country estate; it later became the first home of the Museum of the City of New York, and most famously, a residence for some of New York's mayors.
She attended the Vail-Deane School in Elizabeth, NJ, and graduated from Smith College in 1932. Upon graduation she taught second grade at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA, married Robert Barker in February 1937, and moved to Brookline, MA, where they raised their five children: Athalia Esty of Sausalito, CA, Margaret Christie of Chestertown, MD, Elizabeth Abbott of Andover, MA, Alice Canham of Wareham, MA, and Robert Jr. of Canton, MA.
She was a committed life-long volunteer for many causes, especially Smith College, which she served as both class president and president of the Boston Smith College Club on several different occasions, led the Boston Smith College Scholarship Committee, and was a dedicated alumnae fundraiser. She remained devoted to early childhood education, helping to create and sustain programs for pre-school children through long-term work with the Associated Day Care Services of Metropolitan Boston, where she served on the boards of both Ruggles Street and Sunnyside Day Nursery programs. She also was an active, parent volunteer at Park School, Shady Hill School, Milton Academy, and St. Paul’s School. In addition, she was a regular volunteer at Boston Lying-In Hospital and Brookline Women’s Free Hospital until she and her husband retired to their home in Wareham in 1981.
Athalia Barker was the central nurturing force among a close-knit, extended family and myriad friends. The home she and her husband maintained on Buzzards Bay in Wareham remains a natural manifestation of their love and hospitality. She is survived by her five children and their spouses, fifteen grandchildren, and fifteen great grandchildren.
Forever grateful for the gift of financial aid she and her siblings received, enabling them to be the first members of their family to have a college education, the family requests that donations in her memory and in thanksgiving for her long and wonderful life be made to Smith College for scholarships. Gifts may also be made to Associated Day Care Services of Metropolitan Boston.
A service of celebration and remembrance will be planned and announced for a later date.