Departed from this world as she had lived – without pretense or bitterness but with fierce loyalty, a generous heart, keen sense of humor, and always, with her own opinions!
Barbara lived her entire life in Natick. Born October 1, 1946, the only child of Caroline (Anderson) and Arthur B. Cook, she grew up less than a mile from where she lived her adult life. Barbara was no stranger to life’s challenges, beginning at age 6, when her cherished father was killed in a car accident. Her mother raised her as a single parent. This early childhood experience instilled in Barbara a work ethic and self-sufficiency she displayed throughout her life.
Barbara graduated from Natick High School and worked various jobs to support herself and her mother. Her marriage to Carl Rovinelli in 1971 resulted in the birth of her only child, Al Rovinelli. As a mother, Barbara was an outspoken advocate for local schools he attended. She dedicated her time and talent to parent councils to voice concerns on behalf of parents and students.
After her divorce, Barbara raised her son as a single parent yet remained close to her former in-laws, Josephine “Nana” and Carl “Papa” Rovinelli of Natick. Barbara took care of Nana and Papa during their last illnesses, as well as her maternal aunt, Joan Anderson-O’Neil.
Barbara supported herself through different ventures, most notably in recent years, through Happy Dog Daycare, her home-based business. She became a familiar site driving her white minivan filled with dogs of all sizes to and from daycare. Barbara became the beloved pack leader and surrogate parent to many four-footed friends.
More than anything, Barbara enjoyed good food, good conversation, and the simple pleasure of being with friends. She developed friendships through her walks at Elm Bank Reservation, shopping at Tilly & Salvy’s Bacon Street Farm, and eating hot dogs at Casey’s Diner. Once admitted to Barbara’s circle of friends, she remained steadfastly loyal and supportive (and lovingly directive!). She connected a variety of individuals who became friends due to Barbara’s influence.
Nearly five years ago, Barbara encountered her most difficult challenge: metastatic breast cancer. Despite years of grueling therapies, Barbara’s generosity of spirit never wavered. She found an opportunity to broaden her circle of friends to also include her many caregivers at the Vernon Cancer Center at Newton Wellesley Hospital, especially, Amy Comander, MD; Diane Doyle, NP; Chryssanthi Kournioti, MD; David Bullus, PhD; Gayle Tilman, MD and so many others – nurses, phlebotomists, technicians, schedulers, transport and parking personnel - who provided comfort and kindness. True to form, Barbara even made peace with “Bertha”, her original tumor.
Barbara is survived by her son, Alan Rovinelli of Franklin, Massachusetts; her cousins, Carol Anderson Church and her husband, Morey, of Saline, Michigan; Henry “Hank” Crook and his wife, Marlyn of Los Gatos, California; John Anderson of Alton Bay, New Hampshire; her beloved Corgis, Teddy and Roxanne; and Corgi cousin, Mercy, and many, many friends, including all of the dogs (and owners) she nurtured and loved through Happy Dog Daycare.
At her request, there will be no funeral services. All are welcome at a celebration of Barbara’s life on Sunday, October 17 at 11 am at 82 Union Street, Natick MA.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Barbara’s honor to MSPCA or the Vernon Cancer Center at New Wellesley Hospital.
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