by Rick Winterson
Let it first be said that interviewing Barbara Signor and then writing a Spotlight article about her is not only easy, it’s a real pleasure. Barbara is a Marine, a professional caregiver, a skilled volunteer, a tireless veterans’ worker, a devoted single mother of three, and most especially, she’s a good and cheerful soul. Who could ask for a better subject? Not South Boston Online, for certain.
Barbara’s children are named Joseph, Thaddeus, and Medora. Her extended family includes her father and mother, Ignatius and Maria Majchrzak, along with her two sisters Christina and Romualda, and her brother Peter. She is truly devoted to them all, as well as being a kind, faithful friend to many others.
After graduating from Girls Trade High School, Barbara worked in Washington, D.C., for the Jeff Graham family; Graham was employed by then Secretary of State Dean Acheson. As soon as Barbara came of age (during the Korean Conflict), she enlisted in the Woman Marines. More about this later, but she has been devoted to military veterans’ causes ever since then.
Her 25 years of service in caregiving includes 11 years at South Boston’s Laboure Center, where Barbara taught knitting and crocheting, ran discussion groups on marital difficulties, and became certified as an alcohol abuse counselor. She then spent 14 years as a Nurse’s Aide – two at Marian Manor followed by twelve on the night shift at St. Margaret’s Hospital (Dorchester) on the cancer floor. Her specific assignments ran the complete gamut of Nurse’s Aide’s duties – emergency room, infant care, taking vital signs, patient care, and so on.
Barbara’s many accomplishments don’t stop there. She is just two courses shy of completing her Bachelor’s Degree at UMASS Boston. She’s a lifetime member of both the Woman Marine Association and the Saunders Post (AL #383), and was President of the former and Treasurer of the latter. She teaches knitting and crocheting at the Ollie/Senior Center, and taught CCD classes in South Boston parishes for over 40 years. As of this Christmas, over in the Design Center, she completed 20 years volunteering at Toys for Tots.
This writer was present when Barbara’s elevation to 2018 Parade Chief Marshal was announced at the Veterans Social last November 13. She beamed. She’s only the third woman so honored – the first in 25 years. “I am truly honored,” she said, “As a veteran myself, I feel strongly about celebrating Evacuation Day.” She then added that people have to realize how passionate St. Patrick was about all of the work he did during his lifetime. A month later, Barbara was photographed with Mayor Walsh while she was volunteering at Toys for Tots, and then later, just after teaching a knitting/crocheting session at the Senior Center.
When asked about all of her community efforts, Barbara turned the compliment aside by mentioning the example of Sr. Maryadele at Laboure, as well as two friends, Helen Hurley and Mary Orton, who not only taught her knitting, but were also loving, genteel ladies who successfully raised large families.
You’ll hear more about Barbara Signor as Parade Day approaches (Sunday, March 18).