June 16, 2024

Barbara (Bliss) Coleman


Barbara (Bliss) Coleman of Oro Valley, AZ died peacefully, July 27, 2023 at home, surrounded by her loving children. She was 99.

Born Barbara Bishop Bliss on December 23, 1923 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, she was raised on the land of her ancestors, the seventh generation to live in the Daniel Bliss Homestead built in 1741. In her youth, it was essentially a 19th century farm in the 20th century. Her father farmed with horses, they had cold water from a well, a kitchen warmed by a wood cookstove, a well-trod path to the outhouse and nursery rhymes were learned by oil lamps (they got electricity when she was ten). In the summer, they cooled off in the stream that flowed through River Meadow. Barbara loved the farm, its rich history imbued with family stories, and passed that appreciation onto her children. Her keen memory made her a great oral family historian and she kept long dead relatives alive through stories and anecdotes.

In 1943, Barbara graduated from Bryant College with a business degree and took her first job with Brown and Sharpe in Providence, RI. Shortly thereafter she married Sergeant William S. Coleman and they created a life together. In 1954, they settled in Westwood, MA where they raised their family. Barbara taught Sunday School at the First Parish Church, volunteered with the Girl Scouts and became fast friends with the other young women raising families in the neighborhood. Barbara and Bill also enjoyed lifelong friends in Westwood who gathered monthly as members of the “Poker Club.” They loved the outdoors and instilled a similar passion in their children through annual camping vacations during the 50s and 60s to Cape Cod and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Barbara worked at the Westwood Town Hall for many years in several positions, finally as the secretary to the town’s Executive Secretary. When her boss retired, the Selectmen weren’t satisfied with the applicants so they asked her to serve as interim Executive Secretary. She accepted and then served as the town’s manager until she retired a few months later. She likely was the first female in Westwood to serve in that capacity.

In 1984, Barbara and Bill retired to their beautiful home on Lake Ossipee in Freedom, New Hampshire. They enjoyed the lake and life in the village of Freedom and were active in the church and historical society. Barbara and Bill were honored for their work in the community when they were named marshals during one of Freedom’s Old Home Week parades. They had a wonderful retirement and traveled extensively. In 2007, these bedrock New Englanders relocated to live with their daughter, Linda, in Arizona. Bill passed away two years later but Barbara stayed active right up to her death, quilting, knitting, playing games and especially enjoying the love, companionship and support of her daughter.

Barbara was a modest woman whose life was ultimately marked by kindness. She was quick to give and never wanted anything in return. The amount of people she touched in some way is incalculable. She also made some of the best pies in America.

Barbara was the beloved wife of the late William S. Coleman and mother of the late Nancy Koza (Mike) and grandmother to the late Michael W. Koza. She is survived by her children, Ken (Tracey), Linda (Benjamin) and Steve (Katy) and her grandchildren Karyn Gaynor, Kirsten Crosby, Reidun Wallin and Connor Coleman, and Noel and Quinn Coleman, along with numerous great grandchildren, nieces and nephews and all manner of relatives. She loved them all and is sorely missed.

Please send no flowers. Barbara wrote, "I want, wish "in memory of" to be: Either buy a bond or put money in a fund for your children's or grandchildren's education. If you don't have one of "these" then I would like you to put it "Pennies for Paris" or your current wish fund.” Private internment will take place at Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, RI.

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