Skip navigation

Friday November 10, 2017

BARRETT, Mary Jean (nee Kemsley) September 12, 1928 - November 2, 2017
Mary's long journey with Alzheimer's ended in November at Kensington Gardens, Toronto. Predeceased by her husband Norman Edward 'Ted' Barrett, she is survived by her daughters Renee Barrett (Dana Baker), Deb Barrett (Jim Leech), grandchildren Jessica Shanks (Chris Little), Jeffery Shanks, great-granddaughter Laina, sisters-in-law Barb Godman (Eric) and Norma Mellon (Robert), nieces and nephews and an extended family of step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Born in Toronto, Mary moved to Timmins, Ontario following her adoption by Edith Della (nee Homes) and Charles Gordon Kemsley. Ted's family was also from Timmins but the pair attended different high schools and did not become a couple until after they had both moved to Toronto and were introduced by Ted's sister Barb. Following their marriage in 1952, they moved to North Bay when Renee was a baby and then to Sudbury where Deb was born. In 1958, the family relocated to Brantford where the girls were raised. In those early years Mary worked as a secretary and sold silverware and mutual funds. She was also an accomplished seamstress, having sewn her own wedding dress and clothes for herself and her daughters, an avid gardener and knitter and later in life she took up needlepoint to pass the time.

Mary and Ted had a good life in Brantford with many friends including fellow members at Northridge Golf Club where Mary played golf five days a week. Mary loved golf. Family folklore reports that one day she came home from the golf course and mowed down her peony bushes to make more time for golf. As Ted neared retirement, trips south to North Carolina became more frequent and following Ted's retirement, the couple spent winters in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where they established another close group of friends who were all members at Hidden Lakes Golf Club.

2007 was Mary's annus horribilis, with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's in January, breast cancer and related surgery in June/July, Ted falling ill and passing away in early October, and in November, the surrender of her beloved cat, Spooky and relocation from her condo to Tranquility Place, a Brantford retirement home. Despite her illness, Mary courageously faced these new challenges and made close new friends at Tranquility.

In April of 2011, Mary needed a higher level of care and moved again, this time back to Toronto to Kensington Gardens. Mary lived at Kensington for the last six years. Words are not enough to express our family's appreciation for the friendship, care and kindness shown to her by all the staff of Kensington. We are also very appreciative of Mary's private caregivers, Jeanet and Lemlem. These caregivers became Mary 'Blue Eyes' second family. Daily, and until the very end, Mary resisted the pull of her disease and faced each new challenge fearlessly with the help of her caregivers. She made her family proud.
   In accordance with Mary's wishes, cremation has taken place and a Memorial Service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Kensington Foundation or a charity of your choice could be made. Special memories and condolences may be forwarded to the family through www.mccleisterfuneralhome.ca

Back to top