January 25, 1928 – July 14, 2020
It is with heavy hearts that we announce Barbara Smyth Spence of Scituate went home to the Lord on July 14, 2020. Mom amazed us as she maintained her charisma and delightful sense of humor in her final days.
Barbara was born on January 25, 1928 to the late Barbara Brooks Smyth and James Smyth. She grew up in Brookline and Newton, Massachusetts, and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1950.
Radcliffe was where Barbara met the love of her life, Harvard student Robert Joyce Spence. They met after class in 1947, and he had a friend ask her for a date. After a four-year courtship, Robert and Barbara married on June 2, 1951, and remained together for 63 years until his death in 2014.
A major in Classics at Radcliffe, Barbara retained a lifelong interest in the field, studying Greek, Latin and Aramaic with Father Paul at the Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham. She had a particular passion for the arts, including classical Chinese brush-painting. She loved music; an avid singer, she was a member of the choir at South Shore Choral Arts, as well as the St. Mary’s of the Nativity Church in Scituate. She was also an avid golfer winning the Scituate Country Club 9- hole championship at the age of 83. Barbara loved birdwatching and was a big fan of Disney World making several visits with her family. She also traveled extensively around the world.
It was in helping others that Barbara truly came into her own. She volunteered throughout her life, including decades at the Pine Street Inn in Boston. With Robert, she established The Spence Family Trust. She supported charitable and community organizations including the South Shore Hospital, the YMCA, the parish center at St. Mary’s of the Nativity Church and others.
Barbara and Robert especially believed in supporting educational institutions including their alma maters, Radcliffe, Harvard and Phillips Exeter Academy. Together, they endowed the Grace J. Spence Memorial Scholarship at Exeter, in honor of Robert’s mother, providing a scholarship that is awarded to a student in need each year.
Ultimately, Barbara’s greatest joy and center of her life was always her family. She supported Robert as he rose to leadership positions in century-old South Shore businesses founded or owned by his family including Rockland Trust Company and the Albert Culver Company. And she raised her and Robert’s six children, driving them to school, hockey games and skating competitions and participating fully in their busy lives.
Barbara continued to be just as involved in the lives of her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren, always available to lend a second pair of hands to anyone who needed them, spending countless hours at sports and school events and serving as the “go-to” family member for help with math and Greek.
Barbara is survived by her six children including Robert J. Spence, Jr., and his wife Maura, of Scituate; William F. and Susan Spence of Norwell; Richard H. and Jeanne Spence of Scituate; Carole S. and Michael Mullen of Marshfield; Barbara S. and Peter Roberts of Scituate; and Susan S. and Robert Brosnan of Scituate. She also is the grandmother of 13 and greatgrandmother of five.
With gratefulness in their hearts, Barbara’s family would like to thank the caregivers, Pam, Jenn, Marissa, Ann, Denise, Cora and Laura, who have been so compassionate and supportive through the years.
Services will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Barbara may be made to Glastonbury Abbey, 16 Hull Street, Hingham, MA 02043, 781-749-2155 • email@example.com
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Susan Adams Horwich
July 22, 2020
As a child I always thought Barbara was one of the most beautiful women in town. I can still see her arriving at our house with her husband. They were going to some fancy event. Her dress was white embroidered with yellow daisies.
She was beautiful with a good heart. My Nana babysat for Barbara’s children.
When my mother died suddenly, Barbara was on the phone insisting I leave FL and come live with her. She was an angel then and now.
July 20, 2020
Mrs. Spence and I enjoyed playing golf once or twice a week since 1992. I loved every minute we spent together! She was the most wonderful person and I will miss her deeply. I will always treasure our time together. Xoxo
July 16, 2020
Thinking of all of you in this sad time. She was a wonderful lady!