Smith & Williams Funeral Home/Kempsville

4889 Princess Anne Road, Virginia Beach, VA


Frances Louise Barbato

July 2, 1934August 1, 2019
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Frances Barbato, 85, passed away at home with her loving family by her side on August 1, 2019. She was born on July 2, 1934 to the late Martin Frank Liscio and Pauline Barbara Liscio (nee Young) in Farrell, PA. She grew up in Montclair and Orange, NJ, and in 1955, married Carl A. Barbato. They raised their family, first in Parsippany and then East Hanover, NJ, before moving to Virginia Beach, VA in 1975. While in East Hanover, she was very active in the community, serving as a Deacon at Kitchell Memorial Church, on the First Aid Squad, as a Girl Scout Leader and a Cub Scout Leader, and as a Girls Softball coach. In addition, she made time for her many joys, including cooking, baking, gardening, entertaining her family and friends, studying and sharing the Bible, and most of all, being with Carl. While in VA, she particularly cherished her time working at Carl’s side. She was predeceased by Carl in 2013, her parents, and by her sisters, Pauline and Marlene. She is survived by her five children, Martin of Madison, NJ; Edward of Grandview, Tennessee (wife Mechelle); and Robert (wife Corinne), Kathleen Sweeney (husband Jeff), and Nancy Keech (husband Rob), all of Virginia Beach. She is also survived by 14 grandchildren and 15 great-grand-children, brother-in-law Donald, cousin-in-law Joanne Russoniello, many cousins, nieces & nephews, including Lucia Barbato. A visitation will be held on Saturday, August 3, 2019 from 6 to 8pm at Smith and Williams Funeral Home, 4889 Princess Anne Rd., Virginia Beach, VA 23462. A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday at 3:00 pm at the funeral home. Burial will follow at Colonial Grove Memorial Park. You may pay your condolences at www.smithandwilliamskempsville.com. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to In Touch Ministries (Charles Stanley), PO Box 7900, Atlanta, GA 30357 (800-789-1473), one of Frances’ favorite sources for the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


  • Carl Barbato, Husband (deceased)
  • Martin Barbato, Son
  • Edward Barbato and wife, Mechelle, Son
  • Robert Barbato and wife, Corinne, Son
  • Kathleen Sweeney and husband, Jeff, Daughter
  • Nancy Keech and husband, Rob, Daughter
  • She is also survived by 14 grandchildren and 15 great-grand-children, brother-in-law Donald, cousin-in-law Joanne Russoniello, many cousins, nieces & nephews, including Lucia Barbato.

  • Robert Barbato
  • Ed Barbato
  • Martin Barbato
  • Jeff Sweeney
  • Rob Keech
  • Bryan Barbato
  • Brice Sweeney
  • Nick Sweeney

  • In Touch Ministries


  • Visitation Saturday, August 3, 2019
  • Celebration of Life Sunday, August 4, 2019
  • Burial Sunday, August 4, 2019


Frances Louise Barbato

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Ray Rebby

August 5, 2019

Marilyn and I send our sincere condolences on the recent passing of your mother. Please extend our thoughts to your entire family. With love,
Marilyn & Ray Rebby



To understand our mom, it is helpful to understand her background. For centuries, families have been uprooted and moved for work. Immigrants came to the US for work, and then would move again for work. Mom’s family followed this path. Her father’s father, Moe Liscio, came to the US and settled in the Pittsburgh area, on the border with Ohio. Her father Martin was born and grew up here. Her mom’s family, the Youngs, immigrated from Austria-Hungary to this same area. Her mom was born here. Mom was born here. This was the heart of the steel industry. So it is likely that her father and grandfathers worked in the steel mills or in a related field. Assuming so, this was hard work and at the time, could be dangerous work. But for immigrants and first generation Americans, this was good work for decent pay, upon which you could raise a family. And since they all lived near each other, it would be easy to assume that they were a close knit family.
But mom’s life was about to be substantially changed in big ways – and not all good ways. First, in 1944, when she was 10, her father moved his family to Montclair, NJ – some 370 miles away. We don’t know why, but this was a big move away from the extended multi-generational family – and was most likely for work. Maybe better, safer work. By this time, his family had grown to three girls. Mom was the middle of three sisters. The oldest was Pauline, named for their mother. The youngest was Marlene. Two years later, when mom was 12, their mom died at age 32 after a long illness. Four years later, in 1950, their father died at age 41. Shortly before he died, and likely knowing he was ill, he remarried so that his daughters could have someone to care for them. Their new mom turned about to be the story book step mother. In less than a year after he died, they were out of their home. They went to live in Orange, NJ with their Uncle Pat and Aunt Antoinette. Uncle Pat was their father’s brother. Uncle Pat and Aunt Antoinette were already raising a big family. But they took the sisters in, and treated them well. The sisters looked fondly upon this time, and became close with their cousins, and we visited many times with all of them. And the sisters became very close with each other.
To this point, mom’s life was less than ideal. But mom’s life was about to change in an important and good way. Before they left the stepmother, they went with her to visit her relative. The relative was related to the wife of Angelo Barbato, brother of Carl Barbato. Carl was a successful attorney in NJ, and he had a strapping young son, also named Carl. Carl junior was visiting his Uncle Angelo when in walked Frances. And as a variation on what my grandmother used to say, nature took its course, and mom and dad started dating. In September 1955 they were married.
Mom and dad first lived in Bloomfield NJ, then in Parsippany, NJ, and then in 1964, with four kids and a fifth on the way, they moved to East Hanover, NJ. It was here that my mom built the biggest outside experience of her life. For 11 years, before moving to Virginia Beach in 1975, mom raised us, worked as a housekeep outside the home, and took care of our blind great-grandmother who came to live with us. If this wasn’t enough, she led a life of active service in the community. Although raised Catholic, she followed dad to the local Presbyterian church, where she served as a Deacon. She also became a member of the First Aid Squad, a Girl Scout Leader, a Cub Scout Leader, a Brownie leader, and a Girls Softball coach. She also worked at a school for developmentally disabled children. During this time, she still found time and energy for her many joys, including cooking, baking, gardening, and entertaining her family and friends at home. The house seemed to always have people there. There was usually sauce being made, meatballs with raisins, lentil soup, and also things that were not our favorites, like liver.
Then, another change – the move to Virginia Beach. Dad, who was a union man in NJ, decided to move to Virginia Beach for work. He left union work and started his own ceramic tile business in VA. Mom joined him in the business, and they enjoyed working together. And she did heavy physical labor. We all got a big kick hearing about how this 5’2’, slender woman, would carry buckets of cement. Mom was also meticulous with a check book. She did her monthly bank reconciliations to the penny. She kept
detailed records on spending. Our dad was good with math too, but I believe that their combined competency was critical to the success of the business.
In 1989, our dad’s parents moved to Virginia Beach, and so caring for them until they passed became another daily part of mom’s life.
As she grew older, and dad retired, she began to study the Bible in earnest. She also spent many hours on the phone on a regular basis with her sisters in NJ. As I said at our dad’s funeral, our parents were each other’s preferred company. They had their vacation home – a mobile home at a camp ground in VA – where they spent many enjoyable weekends, just the two of them.
From all this background, there are a few important experiences I will keep about my mom, which are rooted in this history. For one, she was happy to live a life that was focused on her family over herself. I don’t know anyone that led such an active life dedicated to the needs of others. In spite of experiencing such loss at an early age, she not only didn’t act bitter or sad about life, but was optimistic and very giving. And she rarely gave attention to herself. Mom was a plain cloth coat person. No furs, no fancy clothes. She didn’t wear a lot of jewelry. It was impossible to buy her gifts. One splurge on herself were her plants. She had a real green thumb – no plant was beyond saving.
Another experience was seeing empathy. She had time for everyone and anyone at any time. She was the best listener I have ever known. When you talked with her, you felt that she felt you. There was a calmness, a patience, and a care she expressed for the person she was with. I’m sure that the grandkids could sense this, as she spent time with them, sitting on the floor playing games or cards and puzzles at the table, just talking and eating crackers and cookies. She gave her time and her attention. As parents, we could see this in her and it felt great to feel that our kids were happy with her. A related experience was that she taught us to do the right thing, regardless of what the other person did. She was a pacifist, to the point of teaching us as kids to
walk away from a fight rather than to defend ourselves. I always wondered about this one, but that was her.
Another was the definition of family. Mom invited everyone in, and as the spouses of her children changed, and new children came into the family, everyone was welcome. She even maintained warm relations with her former daughters in law.
One last important experience. Mom always intended good and to do no harm. Jesus taught that what comes from the mouth proceeds from the heart. By this measure, we knew her heart. He also taught that blessed are the peacemakers, who are to be called the children of god. Again, by this measure, we knew mom. She didn’t live perfectly, as none of us do. But she chose purposely to live right, as much as she could and as often as she could. By this measure, she was a great person. We can look to her kindness, gentleness, patience, desire for peace and tolerance, as guides for living, and evidence that she truly was a child of god. She was an angel on earth.
A few funny observations. She did not move quickly. Dad, who was a big car guy, used to say that mom had one gear - reverse. Much time was spent waiting on her. She also had difficulty hearing, which meant that we were forever repeating ourselves and could lead to funny misunderstandings. Then there are the dogs. Many of them. All named for variations on two of her favorite things to consume – coffee and sweets. And many of them seemed to end up with the same ailment – obesity. They followed her all around the house, probably because she never stopped feeding them. And they looked like it.
A final note. Although many people contributed to making mom’s life what it was, I would like to take the opportunity to express special thanks for some special people. After dad died in 2013, mom was not quite able to live on her own without assistance. In stepped in Kathleen and Jeff, who were regular and constant sources of support and assistance for mom. They not only visited regularly, but took care of a range of needs that enabled mom to stay in her home. Until her stroke in May 2017, mom was able to live a life that would not have been possible without their care and support. My personal thanks to them.
But with the stroke, it was no longer possible for mom to live alone. A new plan was now needed. We talked about an assisted care facility or how to keep her at home by hiring 24-hour care. But God put on Nancy’s heart to take mom into her home. No one asked her to. And her and Rob did a great job of taking care of mom. It truly was the best solution for mom that we could have hoped for. Mom was cared for and loved and appreciated and enjoyed. And mom was happy. My personal thanks to them.
Thank you again for coming today. I hope she doesn’t mind that we gave her all of this attention.