It would be difficult to imagine a person who led a life of altruism more honestly and more ardently than Barbara MacIntyre of Bennington , the community and political activist who died July 11 at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, N.Y., after a time of declining health. Proof of the notion that Barbara was always humbly thinking of others before herself is seen in the formidable list of her activities.
She was on the boards of the Bennington Coalition for the Homeless and the Bennington-Rutland Opportunity Council.
She was an active member of the Greater Bennington Peace and Justice Center and its sister-city project with Somotillo, Nicaragua. Barbara
traveled several times to Somotillo and organized donations of books and needed supplies to that poverty-stricken town.
She was devoted to the annual Bennington street fair called Mayfest, generating enthusiasm and whipping up volunteers to join in the festivities.
In politics, Barbara was an outspoken progressive and helped elect candidates on the town, county, state, and national levels. She had chaired both the Bennington Town and County Democratic committees and worked tirelessly renting temporary political headquarters, hauling chairs and lawn signs in her pickup truck, making phone calls to urge people to become registered and get out there and vote. Even after suffering a near-fatal stroke a few years ago that left her unable to read, she asked a volunteer to dial the phone for her because she couldn't see the numbers, but her voice was as firm, vibrant, and persuasive as ever. She knew who was going to vote the right way and whether they would need a ride to the polls.
She became so well known to all Vermont Democratic officials that the state's current congressional delegation – Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch -- quickly issued statements on her death that remember and honor her.
Statewide, the Vermont Democratic Party in 2011 gave Barbara its top honor, the Curtis Award, for exemplary service to her party and community. This award last year went to Sue Minter, current candidate for governor.
Barbara's dedication to all these activities took place while she was a single woman bringing up two sons and working fulltime at Union Carbide, later Energizer.
An activity of Barb's that few probably know about was her deep interest in Glastenbury. In 1984 she had been appointed supervisor of that unincorporated town by her friend, Vermont's first woman governor, Madeleine Kunin. In that role she was able in 1987 to forestall an unwise development that could have seen 16 houses built in this remote, high-elevation town of single-digit population that had no school, no fire department, no town clerk, and no zoning law.
Barbara worked immediately with the Bennington Regional Planning Commission to enact a zoning ordinance that rejected the fly-by-night housing project. This quick action served to preserve the forested, wildlife-habitat character of Glastenbury and its abandoned village of Fayville. She remained active on the Glastenbury Zoning Board until her death. As an indication of her devotion to this endeavor, she left orders to have her ashes scattered in Fayville.
Tyler Resch lives in Shaftsbury and is a past editor of the Bennington Banner. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bennington Banner.