Remembrance of the Life of Barbara Light CoL
“What a kind and generous person!” That is the most frequent description of Barb Light. She was always present when needed, agreeable to do anything to help —transportation to and from the airport, serve on a hospitality team, work with Loretto members on health care, and many other services. She was always cheerful, funny and willing. Maureen O’Connell wrote that “Barb Light was one of the most bright, positive, nicest of our Loretto friends.” She was a faithful member of Community Group 22, serving as CPC representative for several years, and contributed often and valuably. I could wax eloquent for many more paragraphs, but I’m sure everyone hearing this already knows Barb’s sterling qualities. I hope you will think of her and add your own comments, orally or silently.
Barbara Ann Dunn was born Oct. 8, 1933, in Denver to Katherine Mary Leonard Dunn and George Herbert Dunn. She was the oldest of three. Mary (Sister Janell within Loretto) and George Herbert Dunn II were her siblings. Mary is deceased, and George now lives in Albuquerque, N.M.
On Oct. 8 of this year, her birthday, Barb fell in her apartment. Kathy Sullivan took her to Urgent Care, and Urgent Care sent her by ambulance to Mercy Hospital. It was determined that Barb had broken ribs and that she had a lung puncture. Barb spent a miserable week in the hospital and finally died from complications a week later. I must acknowledge the constant work of Kathy in providing care of Barb and dealing with the many details leading up to and after Barb’s death. We both felt the privilege of being with Barb during that one week of Oct. 8 to the morning of Oct. 15 when she died.
During all but the last day of Barb’s short hospital stay, she was lucid and talkative. I informally interviewed her about some of the significant events in her life. It was an enjoyable conversation as she reminisced, often stopping to be perfectly correct as I typed cryptic notes. I have written most of this from that precious conversation. Later I received the official documents from Archivist Eleanor Craig, and I have added a few things and fixed a few uncertain dates.
About Barb’s education: She spent first to eighth grades at Blessed Sacrament in Denver with the exception of third grade at St. John’s. Her high school years were at St. Mary’s Academy. After that, in 1951, she joined the Sisters of Loretto novitiate in the famous House of Studies in St. Louis. She was received into the Loretto congregation Oct. 25, 1952, taking the name Sister Barbara Jean, made her first vows in 1954 and final vows in 1957. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Webster College. She then taught at St. Ann’s in Normandy (St. Louis area) and then at St. Ann’s in Arlington, Va. From there she went to Mount Carmel where she taught for one year and then was made principal and was reappointed to that position. She received a master’s degree in theology from Marquette University by going to school summers. She was dispensed from her vows in 1971 and began teaching math in the Henry School of the Parkway School District in St. Louis County.
The next part of Barb’s career from 1975 to 1999 was with Tenneco Packaging which became Packaging Corporation of America. As part of her job, she did extensive traveling. She retired in 1999 from that company. She was married for 10 years to John Light; they divorced in 1985.
In 1996 Mary Ann Cunningham organized a class reunion and thus began Barb’s fortunate return to Loretto.
Barb wanted to become a Loretto Co-member during the administration of Mary Ann Coyle, one of her novitiate classmates. While Barb and I were talking, she began listing classmates and wanted especially to remember the living ones, although she was close with others as well. She spoke of Mary Ann Cunningham, Antoinette Doyle, Eileen Custy, Aggie Hagan, Val Novak, Gabriel Mary Hoare, Pauline Albin. I was typing fast and may have missed some. You know who you are and how fond of you Barb was. She also sent special greetings to Ev Hoolihan and Maria Visse.
As a Loretto Co-member, Barb eagerly participated on committees and teams. She served six years on the Special Needs Committee, was part of the Health Care Team, was on the Assembly Planning Committee. She volunteered to work the switchboard at 590 and was the pleasant voice and face greeting visitors and callers. It would take all day to list the many ways she volunteered for such tasks as making airport runs, visiting the sick, addressing envelopes, assisting with moves and dozens more activities.
Barb was an enthusiastic Democrat and was furious with the current government administration. Her sense of fairness and decorum were insulted daily. She will surely be keeping watch in November.
It is with an enormous sense of loss but also of gratitude that I end this. As most of you know, when asked if she had any messages, she said, “Tell them I love Loretto and that I am sorry not see them again.” Whenever we all are able once again to gather in person, we will bring Barb Light’s presence into all the circles.