Obituary: Barbara DeForge, 1929-2021 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Barbara DeForge, 1929-2021

Lifelong Burlington resident was a proud homemaker who found "absolute joy" in her family

Published September 7, 2021 at 6:05 a.m.
Updated September 7, 2021 at 12:02 p.m.

Barbara DeForge - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Barbara DeForge

Barbara DeForge, 92, of Burlington, Vt., made her peaceful departure just before sunrise on September 2, 2021. Hours earlier, the heavens beaconed her, alighting the sky with a spectacular sunset as she hovered between worlds.

A lifelong Burlington resident, Barbara was born on January 25, 1929, to Glen and Rose Critchlow. Her brother, Glen Jr., followed in 1931, and the family spent many years in Burlington’s Old North End. There, Barbara forged friendships that stood the test of time — from neighborhood pals to classmates at Cathedral High School.

Blessed with a sharp memory and mind for minutiae, Barbara readily recalled people, places and stories from her past. Listening to her, one could picture a bygone Burlington where ice blocks harvested from a frozen Lake Champlain were delivered on the backs of men to home iceboxes; where the Great Depression loomed large and “if you saw a line, you got in it”; where having a car was a luxury; where teenagers gathered downtown for a soda at Woolworth’s.

During high school, Barbara met Norman DeForge, one of Glen’s classmates. A sharp dresser, Norman caught Barbara’s eye. She soon learned “he’d spent his entire paycheck on nice clothes to make it seem like he had money.” But Norman had already won her heart and, after four years of dating, they married on June 10, 1950.

They spent their first summer as a married couple living in a camper at North Beach Campground. Despite these humble beginnings, Barbara was thrilled to be married and start a family. By 1960, she and Norman had four children, a lovely home in Burlington’s New North End and property on Colchester Point, where they built a summer camp.

Summers at Broadlake revolved around swimming, sunbathing, boating and barbecuing. Barbara and Norman often entertained family and friends — especially the Critchlow clan —with their camp serving as a social hub of sorts. At one point, they had the only working telephone on the street. As a former telephone operator, Barbara was in her element when fielding calls for neighbors. For many, many years, up until her late eighties, Barbara spent sunny days at the lake, with her chair on the shoreline and her feet in the water. Her summer tan was legendary — bring on the baby oil!

Barbara’s love of the beach brought her to Puerto Rico every February, where she and her cousins Jane Wheeler and Pat Pawlowski joined various friends for a two-week girls’ trip. There, Barbara developed a taste for mojitos and empanadas, always putting her own spin on their respective pronunciations. Norman took advantage of her absence and, without fail, would attempt to sneak in a home improvement project or two. This dynamic became a long-running family joke, as nothing ever got by Barbara.

While Norman never joined her in Puerto Rico, he did for their trips to Watch Hill, R.I. Together, with several high school friends known as the "Watch Hill Gang," Barbara and Norman visited fellow classmate Bishop Louis Gelineau each summer for decades. And, of course, Barbara always returned with that enviable tan.

But her first and most lasting love was Vermont. Forever grateful to be a Vermonter, Barbara cherished Sunday drives and weekend getaways to the state’s lesser-known corners. In her later years, she found great pleasure in walks along Burlington’s waterfront and around her neighborhood, where she inevitably chatted up a neighbor.

A proud homemaker, Barbara made everyone feel comfortable in her home — from longtime friends to first-time visitors. She always opened her doors and her heart to company. Family was her absolute joy. She spoke to each of her children on the phone every day; her grandchildren were the jewels of her life.

What else should be known about Barbara?

She had amazing style and closets full of clothes and accessories that spanned decades; she loved lilacs, rhododendrons and red geraniums; she once "planted" a row of lollipops in her garden and made her grandchildren believe in magic; she taught kindness by example and was a most loyal friend; she made a mean apple pie; she was beautiful.

Following Norman’s death in 2009, Barbara adopted the red cardinal as the family totem after learning of the bird’s spiritual symbolism. During her last weeks at home, she delighted in seeing a red cardinal and its mate fly around her yard. Barbara also took great comfort in her enduring Catholic faith. As she approached the end of her life, she found peace through prayer. Saying the rosary was Barbara’s final independent act.

Barbara is survived by her children, Jacky DeForge and partner Linda, Judy Carpenter and husband Case, Jo-Ann DeForge, and Jim DeForge and partner Sue Ellen; granddaughter Courtney Copp and partner Matt; grandson Christopher Copp and partner Bethany; and her cat, Emma. She is also survived by her brother, Glen J. Critchlow Jr., and his wife, Catherine; cousins Jane Wheeler and Pat Pawlowski; friends Bishop Louis Gelineau, Sister Marie Feely and Martha Trotter (and family); and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents; her husband, Norman; and her close family friend, James McGrath.

Barbara’s family thanks caregiver Kathie Berard, Bethany Cloutier, LNA, of McClure 6, and the staff and volunteers at the McClure Miller Respite House. Donations to the Respite House may be made in Barbara’s name. Alternatively, she’d be just as thrilled for people to spend time with a loved one over beer and pizza (her last unfulfilled craving) and listen to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, one of her favorite songs.

We bid you farewell, Barbara. As you embark on your journey to the Great Beyond, we leave you with the words of your beloved mother: “Goodbye, good luck and God bless you.”

A mass of Christian burial is scheduled for Thursday, September 9, at 11 a.m., at St. Mark’s Church in Burlington. In compliance with COVID-19 protocols, masks will be required of all attendees. A private burial will follow at a later date.

Arrangements are under the care of LaVigne Funeral Home and Cremation Service.

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