1/9/2019 12:35:00 PM BARBARA ELIZABETH CORRIGAN
5/20/1937 - 12/11/2018
Barbara, resident of La Conner for more than twenty years, passed away peacefully in her daughter’s home in Seattle, Washington on December 11th, 2018. Predeceased by her loving husband of nearly 50 years, Dr. Thomas Corrigan, in May of 2007, she leaves behind four children: Kit [Trudy], Kimberly, Tom [Lisa] and Michael [Susan], and four grandchildren: Keely, Rory, Dashiell and Violet. Barbara’s disarming mix of candor and discretion bonded her deeply to family and friends. She focused her vitality, sense of humor, and dedication to community toward her passions—the people she loved, the poetry she lived, and the planet she cherished. She kept a faded copy of Mary Oliver’s poem Mindful in her wallet, often repeating aloud the line, “the untrimmable light of the world.” Barbara made lasting impressions with small gestures and warm wit that could leave one humbled by her thoughtfulness. While generous with her own wisdom, she also encouraged others to find theirs. A caretaker at heart she’d ferry countless teens to games and back home in her red and white VW van; “thanks, Mrs. C!” the grateful voices chimed. “Your Mom’s kindness, love and laughter are etched on my heart” one teen, now grown, declared. At shared dinners her own kids might hear her whisper an old childhood saying, “family hold back!” (save the best for the rest) in case food ran short. Barbara, however, never held back when it came to supporting her children’s activities. When son Tom became a top-notch high school wrestler, she attended every match—although audibly cringing with every neck-bending, body-torturing move. She also used her inheritance to allow each child to choose their own adventures—summer camps and first cars, a purebred horse and electric guitars. Growing up on Canada’s eastern-most point, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Barbara inhaled the island’s rugged individualism. She played field hockey, skippered motorboats around a sizable Hogan’s Pond whilst barely a teen, and then went off to Edgehill School in Windsor, Nova Scotia for high school. At Edgehill she won a competitive academic scholarship from the prestigious Rodean School in Brighton and so sailed to England for the last two years of high school. After graduating, she went to McGill University in Montreal where she studied biology and met the love of her life, Tom. Barbara left school early to make a life with her “soul mate.” Both East Coast bred, they built a life on the West Coast in Washington State, raising children, traveling the world near and far, and indulging a wide variety of pursuits. Ravenous supporters of their children’s’ education, Barbara finally took her own advice and returned to university in her 40s to embrace her love of literature and completed her college degree. Throughout her life she volunteered for community organizations in the arts, women’s rights, and public libraries. Although the keeper of the family accounts, she’d say “ask your father about math,” when pestered with homework—though it was Barbara who brought a sinking Snohomish Arts Council back to black and as treasurer procured one of the largest grants the La Conner Library had ever received. Barbara also created many works of her own in multiple media—watercolor, acrylic, oils, collage and book-making—the latter for a decade with a semi-professional group, The FeMail Press. She enjoyed the kinship as well as the creation. She listened to her own muse, as well as her inner critic whom she called, “the dragon” but didn’t let it stop her from trying. Literature was also her constant companion — classics to contemporary — and she loved stories that revealed the secrets within. And yet it was poetry that pierced her most deeply, bringing to life in words the indescribable, unnoticed, and unappreciated. Poetry was also solace in later years, particularly after Tom passed away, leaving her to find a new equilibrium which included moving to Seattle to live near, and then with, her daughter. She took joy in visiting her sons and their families, book club, yoga class, and intimate conversations with ‘come from away’ family and dear friends closer to home. Barbara [nee Herder] was the daughter of the late James Milley and Esther Carnell Herder of St. John›s, Newfoundland, Canada; predeceased by her sisters Judy Woodford [Tom]  of St. John›s, and Nancy Moore [Joe]  of Orlando, FL. She is survived by her beloved brother Jim Herder [Gail] of Aurora, ON, Canada; her loving sister-in-law Carol Corrigan Conway of New Jersey; and by all her treasured nieces and nephews in the U.S and Canada. Those of us lucky enough to have known Barbara Elizabeth Corrigan adore her and miss her fiercely. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to The La Conner Library Foundation in her name.