Delores A. Barbeau, 1943–2021

Delores A. Barbeau, 1943–2021
Delores A. Barbeau, 1943–2021

LONDONDERRY, Vt. – Justice will go before you; light will be behind and all through.

After a lifetime of service, Delores Anne Barbeau entered her rest Friday, July 9, 2021 at the age of 78. Born April 18, 1943 in Lynn, Mass., to Hazel Delia Lloyd (1917–1970) and Raymond Arthur Barbeau (1914–1990), Delores grew up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., along with her two brothers.

From an early age, Delores knew she would devote herself to helping others. Immediately after high school, she joined the Maryknoll Sisters in Ossining, N.Y. After receiving her B.A. from the University of New York at Maryknoll, she briefly taught in the Lower East Side before moving to Bolivia, where she studied and received her medical degree at Universidad de San Simon and surgical residency at Elizabeth Seton Hospital in Cochabamba.

For 25 years, Delores practiced medicine in Bolivia and Nicaragua, building community and friendships wherever she went. These years, in her own words, “changed my life forever”: she saw the world through new eyes and walked in different shoes. She learned to dance, to love, and live the gospel in solidarity with others. It was in Bolivia, too, that Delores met her life partner, Carol M. Olstad (1942–2011), a registered nurse from Alberta, Canada.

Delores completed additional studies in medicine at Wayne State University Family Practice Residency Program and the University of Massachusetts, Fitchburg Family Practice Residency Program. She also served as a clinical faculty member at Harvard Medical College in Boston and the University of Massachusetts Family Practice Residency in Fitchburg, Mass.

In Vermont, where she made her home in the final decades of her life, Delores continued to advocate for the vulnerable and treated patients in the Springfield Health Center and Rutland Free Clinic. In 2009, along with Gloria Dawson, she cofounded Neighborhood Connections, a community-based health and human services organization in Londonderry. In 2014, the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians distinguished her as Physician of the Year. Her close association with Weston Priory, a Benedictine religious community, gave her strength and opportunities for contemplation amidst so many rigorous professional commitments.

The impact of Delores Barbeau’s life is incalculable. All who knew her were struck by her depth of insight, love for community, and dedication to the most vulnerable. She is survived by a brother David L. Barbeau with his wife Rita in North Carolina, as well as a large extended family. Delores’s 12 cousins in the Kennett family related to her as a much-loved sibling, and her two nephews and their children admired her passion for life. Delores’s many friends in New England and around the world, including the Maryknoll sisters in New York, are too numerous to count. All our lives are forever imprinted with her memory.

All are invited to a Eucharistic celebration Friday, Aug. 13 at 5:15 p.m., as well as a graveside service and celebration of her life Saturday, Aug. 14 at 10:30 a.m., at the Priory in Weston. Pictures and slides, organized by Neighborhood Connections in Londonderry, will also be shared at the Visitor Center at that time. She would have welcomed any contributions made in thankfulness for her life to “The Delores Fund” at Neighborhood Connections, P.O. Box 207, Londonderry, VT 05148.

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