Barbara J. Kelley of North Chelmsford

1952 - 2021

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Barbara J. Kelley, 68, of North Chelmsford, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on February 21, 2021 at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers
She shared 34 years of her life with Katherine St. Clair and they celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary on December 5, 2020.
Born in Arlington she was the daughter of the late Matthew P. and Florence C. (Donahue) Kelley. Barbara attended Arlington High and was a member of a group called the Open Forum who worked on the initiative “18 By 72” and worked successfully to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. She graduated with the class of 1969 and went on to earn a BS in Psychology from Northeastern and a master’s degree in Education from Lesley University. Barbara also took classes toward her doctorate from Harvard University.
Barbara saw it as her passion in life to change the world and she did this, one accomplishment at a time. She put herself through school while caring for her two young children to obtain a master’s degree in education and start her career. She loved teaching especially middle school children with special needs. Barbara never met a child she did not think she could help. She advocated tirelessly for her students to make sure all their needs were being met. Many students would return to see her, telling her that she was the first to believe in them and change their path.
Barbara worked two full time jobs as a teacher and the best mother children could have. Her house was where all the kids wanted to be. She could relate to any child and opened her home to any friend her son or daughter brought home. She instilled in her children the importance of hard work and a good education was. She never stopped working to make sure her children had all they needed to become successful adults. While raising her children and working full time she knew that the importance of education required more. It was at this time she ran for and successfully became a member of the Arlington School Committee from 1991-1994. While on the committee, she worked to balance budget cuts with quality education. Barbara also was active with Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton. She rescued 6 different retired greyhounds that all lived into their teenage years.
Barbara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1987 but did not let this diagnosis define her. She lived her life to the fullest, taking down any and all roadblocks that were put in her way. Barbara continued to do all the things she loved to do despite the diagnosis. She was a passionate Red Sox fan and went to as many games as possible. She was an avid gardener and when her diagnosis prevented her from getting on the ground, she planted tomatoes raised garden beds. Barbara was a strong and determined swimmer and loved the beach and her pool. Friends would often see her in her heated pool late into the fall. She never tired of spending many hours swimming with her children and then grandchildren. She loved going to Falmouth and never missed the annual Seafood Festival at Hampton Beach. Barbara was a loyal but feisty and argumentative Democrat who often engaged in many spirited political discussions with family and friends.
Barbara’s greatest role became evident to all when she became a grandmother. She spent countless hours with her granddaughters, spoiling and teaching them, and having amazing adventures. To say they worshipped her is an understatement. She created, baked, crafted, played and with them. She taught them to be courageous and to see the world as accessible to anyone and that there should not be barriers to anyone.
Barbara is predeceased by her brother Paul Kelley. She was the proud niece of Johnny Kelley the well-known Boston Marathon runner.
Her granddaughter Jillian would like you to know that “she was one heck of a gal”. In her Nannie’s last moments, she was surrounded by her family’s love and she seemed peaceful and content as she said her silent, last goodbyes.”
Besides her loving wife, she adored and is survived by her daughter Jennifer Hecking of North Chelmsford and a son Christopher J Anglin also of North Chelmsford. Barbara is also survived by her two treasured granddaughters, Jillian Kelley Hecking and Katherine Grace Hecking and her beloved golden retriever Holly. She had many adventures with loving friends and enjoyed spending time with caring neighbors.

Private services will be held on Monday, March 1st which would have been Barbara’s 69th birthday. Donations may be made in her name to the following organizations, Care Dimensions, 75 Sylvan Street, Suite B102, Danvers, MA 01923 or Greyhound Friends, 167 Saddle Hill Road, Hopkinton, MA 01748.
An online guestbook is available at

1 Condolences for Barbara J. Kelley of North Chelmsford

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    Jennifer Eastman


    I am so sorry for your loss. Sending hugs and much love. xo

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