Barbara E. Purington died with love and care from her family on July 10, 2019 at her beloved home, Woodslawn Farm, on Wilson Hill in Colrain, MA at the age of 92. She was born on August 7, 1926 in Rowe, MA to Albert and Cynthia (Boyd) Page, the oldest of 4 children. She was known by most people as “Bunny,” a nickname given to her by her father when she was very young.
A child of the Depression years, Bunny and her family moved many times wherever work for her father and affordable housing could be found, living in several houses in West County towns and also Readsboro, VT. She sometimes spoke of her childhood of few toys and clothes and of walking long distances to school, to the library and to visit friends. She shared stories of she and her brother Cliff making bows and arrows out of twigs and small branches, and how one winter they made skis out of barrel staves and inner tubes, and sleds out of cardboard. She taught herself how to swim. She remembers her father taking the family on lengthy hikes and on one occasion a trip to Hampton Beach in NH. Her father died when she was just 15 years old.
Bunny graduated from Arms Academy in 1944. Following graduation, she worked in the office at Kendall Mills and also taught school for one semester at the Spur School in Colrain although she had had no teaching training, and it was an experience she didn’t enjoy. During the month of August in 1945, Bunny, along with her widowed mother and 3 younger siblings, picked cucumbers for the Oxford Pickle Company. She recalled they were paid $1.75 per 1,000 cucumbers.
Bunny married Herbert Purington on January 27, 1946 at the Colrain First Baptist Church and, following a honeymoon in New York state including Niagara Falls, they began their life together at Woodslawn Farm on Wilson Hill. Together they raised 11 children. The first 6 were born at the Farm, and at least 8 of them were delivered by Colrain’s Dr. John Olson. And they grew the farm to be a viable, award-winning dairy farm, still operating today as an 8th-generation farm.
She was a devoted, loving and caring wife to Herbert for 70 years until his death in March 2016. For 72 years she was a devoted, loving and nurturing mother to 11 children, grandmother to 19 grandchildren and great-grandmother to 17 great-grandchildren. Notably, until well into her early 80’s she was also the primary caregiver for her daughter Carol who was severely afflicted by polio at the age of 5. Carol recently wrote these words in a poem for Mother’s Day: “In the midst of all this activity she did everything I needed and almost everything I wanted.”
Bunny enjoyed having her family around, looking at family photos, and she loved and took tremendous pleasure in flowers. She liked bird watching, gardening, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and putting together jigsaw puzzles with family members. She was a good cook, always providing well-balanced meals for her big family using meat from the Farm and vegetables and fruits she had grown and preserved. She always had cookies for young and old. At family gatherings she was known for her klinker potatoes, barbecue hotdog slices, baked beans, and a delicious oatmeal cake.
During the last couple of years we would frequently find her sitting on the sun porch where she had a bird’s eye view of the Farm. She could watch the children playing, comment on the birds at the feeders, observe wildlife in the fields, and keep an eye on other Farm activities (often using her binoculars for a closer and better view). Family members and her friends will long cherish conversations, laughter, and quiet moments shared while sitting with her.
Bunny was predeceased by her parents Albert Page and Cynthia (Boyd Page) Hillman; her brothers Albert “Clifford” Page and George Page; and her sister Evelyn (Page) Sellers. She was also predeceased by her husband Herbert in 2016, her daughter Marion (Purington) Doran in 1968, and her son Thomas Purington in 2017.
She is survived by her children: Jean (Thomas) Shippee of Jefferson, ME; Carol Purington of Colrain; Jim (Chris) Purington of Rutland, MA; Nancy Purington (Bob Vandevender) of Stuart, FL; daughter-in-law Sandy Purington of Vero Beach, FL; Ken Purington (Jan Archambault) of Rollinsford, NH; Bob (Joyce) Purington of Colrain; Don (Cathy) Purington of Colrain, Dave (Stephanie) Purington of South Deerfield; and Ray Purington (Steven Carr) of Gill.
She also leaves grandchildren and great grandchildren: Karyn (Brad) Rosenkranz, Lilia and Max of East Longmeadow; Matthew Shippee of Hatfield; Michael Shippee of Westbrook, ME; Nathaniel (Nicole) Shippee, Jack, Lindsey and Ryan of Stow, MA; Mackenzie Arsenault of Portland, ME; Eric Purington of Tokyo, Japan; Carolyn Purington (Sam Chadwick) and Reuben of West Newton; Myles Purington (Sophia Guthrie) of Homer, AK; Jen (Travis) Stitt of Collegeville, PA; Jon (Erin) Purington, Calvin and Jasper of Rochester, NY; Daniel (Cynthia) Purington, Mabel and Cole of Portland, OR; Carl Purington (Becky Novak) of Colrain; Tasha (Ray) Gilbert, Austin and Hannah of Colrain; Mark (Tanya) Purington, Landon, Wade and Brynlee of Colrain; Alison (George) Gutierrez, George, Jr. and Redyn of Colrain; Rachel Purington of South Deerfield; Alex Purington of Colrain; Katy Purington of Jamaica Plain; and Elizabeth Purington of Tacoma, WA. She will also be remembered and missed by her sisters-in-law Mae Page of Greenfield and Peg Phelan of North Berwick, ME; brothers-in-law Charles Purington of Evans, GA and Richard Purington of Homer, AK; and many nieces, nephews and friends.
Our mother was one strong woman to the very end, but she had to be to persevere through some of the challenges she faced throughout her life. We will miss her dearly.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to Dr. Richard Warner for his compassionate and unwavering support whenever needed, to Raymond Atherton for his care and friendship, and to the care teams at Franklin Medical Center and Hospice of Franklin County. Special thanks and gratitude also go to Bob and Joyce for their dedicated and loving care of our mother over the past several years.
Arrangements are under the care of Smith-Kelleher Funeral Home. There will be no calling hours. A luncheon and celebration of Bunny’s life for family and friends will be held at Woodslawn Farm on July 27 at 11:30 a.m. Those attending are encouraged to bring a bouquet of garden or field flowers in honor of Bunny. Burial will be in Colrain West Branch Cemetery at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation made to the Friends of the Griswold Memorial Library, P.O. Box 33, Colrain, MA 01340
Condolences can be sent to the Purington family at 152 Wilson Hill, Colrain, MA 01340
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