Barbara Jane Frederick, 89, of Topsham, died peacefully at the Midcoast Senior Health Center on Dec. 11, 2022 with her family at her side.
BJ, as she liked to be called, was born in Medford, Mass. on May 28, 1933, the only child of Everett Knox and Edith Rankin Knox. After graduating from Medford High School, BJ attended the University of Maine at Orono, majoring in Speech Arts and Education, then went on to Boston University where she earned her Master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Therapy and Audiology. In 1957, she married Willis S. Reed and spent the next 20 years raising their three children while working at several schools in New Hampshire. In her free time, she could be found on the tennis court, canning vegetables from the family garden, bird-watching, and napping!
BJ was active in the Unitarian Church and supporting community theater. She earned a 2nd Masters in School Administration and Supervision and ended her NH career as Director of Special Education in Laconia from 1978-1983. Arriving in midcoast Maine she returned to working directly with students as a speech and language therapist, working for 10 years in Wiscasset and Dresden.
In 1992 she married C. Leslie Frederick, whom she had known since childhood. They divided their time between Damariscotta, and Les’ family camp in Melvin Village, N.H., where they had spent summers as children. In retirement, Barbara became active in Maine’s Senior College and was a founding member of Coastal Senior College. This was her passion project, enabling her to practice many new skills, make close friends and serve as curriculum chair and president. In addition, she was an active volunteer in many organizations. Since 2016 she and Les resided at the Highlands Community in Topsham.
Barbara was a consummate planner and organizer. She often claimed that she thought better with a pen in her hand, and the hundreds of doodles she left on every paper are a loving testament to that fact. She could always be found with a puzzle book within reach, and ink stains on her blankets from the times she nodded off, pen in hand. BJ loved games that involved thinking and strategizing, as opposed to games of luck.
She was an avid bridge player and loved a raucous game of Scrabble. Ever the teacher, she encouraged her younger opponents to use the dictionary to find out if a word was valid before placing their tiles.
Didactic by nature, Barbara never let a teachable moment slip by, whether showing off the natural beauty of Maine to her family and visitors, or using her trusted iPad to learn or confirm a bit of trivia.
Her lifelong motto was a quote from Hamlet, “This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” The quest for truth was also an important part of her spiritual and humanitarian beliefs. A covenant of the Unitarian Universalists reads in part, “Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest for truth is its sacrament, and service is its prayer.” She offered this advice to those who sought it, and to those who did not. Her strong opinions were given unapologetically, but softened by the offering of fresh baked brownies, or apple crisp. You knew you were loved if she shared her cache of dark chocolate non-pareils with you!
A planner to the end, BJ announced she had lived a good life, and was happy with her accomplishments, but she’d “had enough of this pain and old age nonsense.” With a tissue crumpled in one hand, and the remains of a chocolate doughnut in the other, she asked the nurse to begin hospice care, and finally settled in to rest in peace. It was a family joke that she could not carry a tune, finding only tavern songs suitable to her range. Near the end, her breathing was accompanied by a high pitched tone; eyes closed, she smiled and whispered, “I think I’m finally singing.”
Predeceased by her husband Les, Barbara leaves behind her three children by Willis, John Reed and his wife, Janice Burton of New York, Mark Reed and wife, Rebecca, of Maine, and Jennifer Reed Decker, also of Maine. She also leaves her stepson, Jonathan Frederick and his wife, Jill, of Vermont. Among other cherished family members, BJ leaves four grandchildren, Matthew Ricker and Andrew Ricker, of Florida, Angela Reed and Remington Reed, of Washington; and a great-grandson, Mason Ricker, of Florida.
A private burial will be held in Melvin Village, N.H., where she spent her happiest days with friends and family.
In lieu of flowers, Barbara asked that you make a donation to the charity of your choice.