Remembering Barbara Popper
Barbara K. Popper (1943-2013)
A tribute by Mary Summers, Director of MA Family TIES at the Federation
The Federation, Family Voices and hundreds of parent leaders across the country were saddened to learn of the passing of Barbara Popper on November 3, 2013. Mass Family TIES director, Mary Summers, speaking to a group of family leaders who gathered for the Mass Family Voices annual Joining Voices Conference shared some inspiring thoughts. As it turned out, Joining Voices had long been planned for early November and was actually held on the very same day as Barbara’s Memorial Service. We believe this was as she would have wanted it!
Barbara lived with cancer for five years, but cancer didn’t consume her life. She had much more important things to address and truly made magnanimous efforts to not let it interfere with her life. Barbara’s determination in her last days was remarkable, especially to those of us who care for children whose lives are impacted by special health care needs. That’s a lesson in and of itself. Mary went on to say “I personally have felt that a hole has been created among our community activists and loving supporters. From my perspective, Barbara Popper was spirited in impressing upon us: IN SAYING WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID, YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED. Barbara didn’t just believe in equality, when it comes to teambuilding, she lived it. She reinforced the philosophy that graduates of the School of Hard Knocks (which means every parent) are important members of every team that addresses the various aspects of life for each child with special needs. Without our eagle eyes and experience as parents, a team cannot possibly see all sides of a situation”.
Barbara passionately loved her family and shared her stories with all of us. She helped us to reinforce the standard that family comes first – always. A smile rose to my face, as I recalled the stories she shared of her two little granddaughters, ages 1 and 2 at the time, when they learned they could call their Grandmother on the phone, just by scrolling on their Mothers’ iPhones, finding “BaBa’s” picture, and pressing on the screen. She was overwhelmed with joy the first times little Sofia and Anna called her, and even more delighted when the cousins learned to call each other! She loved her husband Steven, her children, and her grandchildren; there can be no doubt. What was even more valuable to us, she shared that love with all of her friends and colleagues, too. That is Barbara’s legacy.