Barbara Park MacDougall
Barbara Park MacDougall passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends on February 6, 2022 in her beloved Block Island home, overlooking Sachem Pond. She was 88 years old.
Barbara was born on February 17, 1933 in New York City. When she moved to San Antonio, Texas, she lived with 1,000 chickens and a cow named
Bessie. She spent hours fishing with her father, Joe, sitting in his lap learning the proper way to put worms on hooks. A fun-loving tomboy with a mind of her own, she attended the Chapin School in New York City and Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut - which she famously told friends and
family members “was not her cup of tea.”
Nonetheless, she “learned to do what young ladies are supposed to do” and after graduating, she traveled Europe in a Hillman Minx convertible car with
her mother, Harriet, returning to New York to attend secretarial school. She was, admittedly, a terrible secretary at Cladwell Clemens but excelled as
“back door receptionist” - allowing her to manage her busy Stork Club social life where she met her future husband, Roderick MacDougall.
Barbara married Rod at 20 years old and had four children by the time she was 25. Those years were a blur. The family moved frequently from New
York City to Babylon, to Wilton to Rochester, to Boston, as Rod, a banker, was continually promoted from bank to bank.
She was a full-time mother, but Barbara also somehow found the time to address wedding envelopes for Chapin & Palmer, sell Fuller Brushes door to door (first woman in Connecticut to do so!), attend functions for bank president’s wives, attend graduate school, and immerse herself in her faith.
Throughout her life, Barbara traveled the world, building deep and meaningful relationships with many. She offered spiritual solace and gentle advice and brought laughter wherever she went – that was her brand of ministry. In Tanzania she travelled from parish to parish offering confirmation. In Rochester, she helped build a library for an elementary school and started prayer groups for women. While in Romania, she worked at an orphanage. In Arizona she worked on a Hopi reservation – a mission associated with Block Island’s Harbor Baptist Church. In Israel she acted as a “peacemaker” walking the streets to resolve religious conflicts. In Boston she served as a chaplain at Mass General Hospital.
Barbara thrived as she developed many friends and colleagues who helped guide her along her path, deepening her faith. She immersed herself into the Episcopal Church serving on numerous search committees for new ministers. She was most proud of her involvement selecting John Coburn, Bishop of Massachusetts, and Barbara Harris, first woman to be elected as Bishop in the Anglican Communion. In the midst of it all, she found time to graduate from Harvard Graduate School of Education and served on the Board of the Episcopal Divinity School.
Wherever Barbara and her family lived, however, they always returned to Block Island. After years of renting all over the island, Barbara stumbled upon
the Sheffield House while lost returning from Sandy Point; she knew this house would one day provide “for her family and others needing spiritual solace.”
Since that day, The Old Sheffield House was transformed into a haven for the entire MacDougall family: her four children, 11 grandchildren, three great
grandchildren (plus two on the way), and, at last count, eight dogs. In later years, she welcomed a family of osprey who built their nest near her house.
On Block Island, Barbara’ s spiritual dedication will be remembered in many ways, by many people. She officiated many weddings, counseled residents,
became an active member of St Ann’s by-the-Sea, and hosted spiritual and yoga retreats on the property that she aptly named “The Turning Point.” Her
largest legacy to the island, though, will be her labyrinth, which opened to the public in 1997 for all to enjoy.
This is written on behalf of her loving family including Doug MacDougall, Amy Lockwood MacDougall, Kate MacDougall, Duncan MacDougall, Jeff MacDougall, Hallie Quirk, Bob Quirk, Leigh Quirk, Matt Quirk, Addy Quirk, Rod Quirk, Susan MacDougall, Lenard Zide, Christo Schultz, Cassie Schultz, Sunday Schultz, Fiona Schultz, Lucas Schultz, Carol MacDougall, George MacDougall, Kate MacDougall, Park MacDougall, Colin MacDougall, Emma MacDougall and in remembrance of Roderick MacDougall and Gordon MacDougall and the late Weld Coxe of Block Island and Jim Pollock (“like the fish”) of West Palm Beach.
There will be a gathering for friends and family on Block Island this spring to celebrate her life. In lieu of flowers we invite all to walk the labyrinth and
consider a donation to the Block Island Medical Center. Please share your blessings and stories at www.forevermissed.com/barabara-park-macdougall.