AN IRISH BLESSING
We were truly blessed when Barbara Hanrahan made the decision to make Kirby Pines her forever home in June of 2019. Barbara represents a strong Irish heritage and a devout Catholic faith. Born into an Irish family, she married an Irishman and gave her two children Irish names. Since moving to Kirby Pines, Barbara has become involved in many aspects of the life here and is a “go-to” person when something is needed. She involves herself with people and is quick to volunteer with such things as assisting someone with their meals in the dining room or delivering a meal to a shut-in. Her personal life has had several sad occasions, yet, she maintains a positive attitude and a happy disposition.
Barbara Jane Cummings was born on October 28, 1938 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was the oldest of nine children, five brothers and three sisters to follow. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom and her father worked three jobs to support the family. Her grandfather started a honey-roasted peanut business in Milwaukee which remains in business today. When asked what her family life was like with so many siblings, she responded, “It was pandemonium most of the time and we ate a lot of soup and stews!” Christmas time was very special. Barbara recalls, “On Christmas Eve Day, Dad would buy a marked down tree; then we would decorate it. After dinner, Dad got us in the car and drove around the city to enjoy all the lights and decorations. Mom stayed home to let Santa in the door as we had no chimney. Poor Mom had to get all the presents ready for us!”
Barbara attended Catholic school in Milwaukee, grades one through twelve, graduating in 1956. College was not an option, so she looked for employment to support herself. She worked in the bookkeeping department of a dental company until her marriage to Bill Hanrahan on Nov. 8, 1958. She had met Bill in 1957 when she joined a church group organized for young, unmarried Catholics. Their first date included a visit to the hospital to greet Barbara’s new baby sister and later to a bowling alley for a game with Bill’s family. Bill and Barbara would later adopt two children, Kevin and Kathleen. Sadly and unexpectedly, Kevin died in 1984 while serving in the Navy. Kathleen, the daughter, remains close by. There are presently three grandsons and eight great-grandchildren in the family.
Bill was employed by the Schlitz Brewery Company in the Quality Control Division and subsequently was transferred often to manage a problem. The couple’s first move was to Kansas City, Missouri where Barbara worked in a neighborhood drug store until they adopted son Kevin in 1963. Barbara then became a stay-at-home mom and continued when she and Bill adopted daughter Kathleen following their transfer to Tampa, Florida. After four years in Tampa, Bill was promoted and the family relocated to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They remained there for seven years and during that time, Barbara was Assistant to the Director of the Montessori School for five of those years. Bill was transferred to Syracuse, New York where according to Barbara, “We endured four harsh winters.” When the plant where Bill worked was sold, he transferred and moved the family to Longview, Texas.
Then in 1982, the Hanrahan family made a final move to Memphis, Tennessee. Barbara was first employed by Goldsmith’s Department Store in the Children and Baby section. Following Goldsmith’s, she worked several years for Garibaldi Jewelry Store and then for Middleton Jewelry where she remained for twenty years until the store closed in 2021. Additionally, Barbara volunteered for the St. Jude-Fed Ex Golf Tournament for twenty-six years. She also volunteers at church and continues her membership at St. Bridgid Catholic Church. Barbara and Bill enjoyed many trips abroad, visiting Hawaii, Germany, Switzerland, The British Isles and the Netherlands.
In 2012, Bill passed away after experiencing several health problems. Barbara remained in their home for seven years before deciding to make a change. “I wanted to be in a place where I did not have to worry about my future or being cared for. I chose Kirby Pines primarily because of LifeCare.”
Barbara says, “I love living at Kirby Pines because there is so much to do. I already knew several residents because of my golf and jewelry involvement. I love making new friends!” Barbara keeps busy by going to water aerobics five days a week, plays cards three afternoons a week, staffs the Blossom Shop on Saturday mornings and sings with the Entertainers Chorus. She attends mass daily, brings communion to a shut-in and is always volunteering to serve others.
Barbara wishes you a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” and to share with you her favorite Irish Blessing: May God grant you always a sunbeam to warm you, A moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you, Faithful friends near you. And, whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.
Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines