West Brookfield - Barbara Elizabeth Shuttleworth died in the early hours of November 12, 2019 after a short illness. She was 96 years old but owned to 97, having always viewed each birthday as wrapping up one year and launching her off into the next one. She was born in Worcester, MA on July 1, 1923 and grew up with two younger sisters and an older brother in Warren, MA, daughter of Eleanor Sophia Bill of West Brookfield and William Wallace Shuttleworth of Warren. She attended Lasell Junior College in Auburndale, MA in 1941-42, then Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI from 1942-1949. Her college education was interrupted by the death of her fiancé, Robert Gladding, on Guam in 1944. When she graduated, her parents gave her a watch inscribed “At last!” She subsequently worked in Hartford, CT as a social worker and advocate for children at risk. Though she had many other jobs, especially when supporting two children as a single parent, up until her death she described herself as a social worker—it was a job she held dear and believed was all-important, even when practicing it on those close to her led to unhappiness. But in her conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds, she inspired respect and admiration for her intelligence, interest, and critical thinking. Smart, tough, and engaged, she was not afraid to say what she thought when it mattered. Though confident in her own perceptions often to the point of blindness, she never gave up on those she loved, and was always ready to begin again.
She grew up sailing on the Connecticut shore; traveled to Venezuela, the Grand Canyon, the Mediterranean, Turkey, Germany, and Great Britain; earned a pilot’s license and loved driving. With family and on her own she spent summers on the Maine coast, a place she cherished. She came alive showing children tidal pools and ocean spray, mixing plaster of paris, and painting whimsical animals on stones and driftwood. Children in fact showed her at her best: she spoke to them as equals and allowed their creativity to blossom, even while insisting on proper table manners and writing thank-you notes. She was an artist and a poet, a collector of antiques and an enthusiast for modern design. Though she always felt she had not accomplished enough, she was an insatiable reader with endless curiosity about current events, history, art, and literature.
Her marriage went irretrievably wrong, but she never regretted it because, as she often said, it brought her two much-loved adopted children into her life. In her last years, after she moved to West Brookfield from her long-time home in Amherst, fear and love dominated her life: fear of "dying unfinished," in her words; but love of the area, in which her adored mother had been brought up, and love of the birds and the waters of Quaboag. She spent her last few weeks in Brookhaven Rest Home, a house which had once belonged to her grandparents: in that, she felt she had come full circle.
She was predeceased by her two sisters, Mary Spencer and Joan Russell, her brother Bill Shuttleworth, and her niece Peggy Moss Shuttleworth Russell. She leaves behind her daughter Christina Shuttleworth Kraus of New Haven, CT and her granddaughter Eleanor Maud Morgan of Haverford, PA, her son Woodford G. Kraus of Amherst, MA and her grandson Phineas Buchanan, also of Amherst; also four nieces, Martha Petrovick of Barre, MA, Mary Ann Antoniazzi of Winsted, CT, Mary Shuttleworth Wright of Louisville, KY and Karen Frank of Georgia; three nephews, J.B. Shuttleworth of Byrdstown, TN, John Spencer of Yarmouth Port, MA, and William Russell of Fort Collins, CO and many grand- and great-grandnieces and nephews.
A Graveside Service for Barbara will be held on Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 10:30AM at Pine Grove Cemetery in Warren. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to NAMI Massachusetts at https://namimass.org.
Varnum Funeral Home, Inc., 43 East Main St., in West Brookfield is assisting her family with arrangements.
To plant a tree in memory of Barbara E. Shuttleworth, please visit our tribute store.