… by Molly Barr
It broke our hearts when we moved Mom out of the mountains in February of 2008. Fiercely independent into her 80’s, Mom lived on her own with her pets on a 300 acre ranch at the eastern foot of the Sierra Mountains in Northern California. Had she been in her right mind, she would never have allowed it. We will remember her as she was before that move. Mom lived in Lassen county for nearly 60 years, and I know that in her heart she never left.
Mom enjoyed a long, full life, far from ordinary. Though saddened at her passing, we look back and applaud all that she accomplished. At nineteen, she horrified her family by dropping out of college to learn to fly. In the 1940’s–especially for a woman–this was synonymous with running off to join the circus. During her long and adventurous career in aviation, Mom logged tens of thousands of hours in the air and, in fact, was still flying well into her 70’s. During her journey she became the U.S. Forest Service’s first woman lead plane pilot, which resulted in the honor of having her photo in an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. Later, in 2001, Mom was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame. What an honor — a true pioneer.
Mom died at the age of 84 on March 1rst, 2010 in the home of her youngest daughter, Nevada, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She’d suffered from dementia for several years prior, but died of natural causes after a short hospital stay. She is survived by her step son, Gary Barr; daughters, Molly & Nevada; and adopted son, Don Paxton (Nevada’s husband).
We know that mom’s friends and other friends of the family may want to honor her in some way. We need for nothing and hope that those of you who would like to remember Mary Barr will do so by donating to a charity in her name. She had a special place in her heart for all animals and below are several of her favorite charities. Also feel free to comment, make contact with mutual friends, or tell stories of how you knew Mary on the page above labeled “Have Your Say.” If you would like to contact a family member directly, you may do so through Molly’s email: barr727comcast.net; or snail mail: Molly Barr, 280 Stageline Dr., Vallejo, CA 94591
P.S. Many of you who knew Mary on the ranch will be wondering about her pets. We moved them ALL with her to New Orleans. As things progressed, we found homes for the cats but Beau, her dog, was with her every step of the way and was such a comfort to her. A woman who was helping care for mom fell in love with Beau and has taken him home to be part of her family and to be a friend to her other dog.