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Catherine Barrett, 92, world traveler, formerly of Great Barrington

Cat lived a very fulfilling life, and lived every day with an uncommon joie de vivre, instilled by her parents. Travel started at an early age, as her father was sent to China for Pan American Airways in 1933.

Catherine Whittemore Bixby Barrett, 92, resident of Shell Point Village, Fort Myers, Fla., formerly of Great Barrington, Mass., died peacefully on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. She was born on May 28, 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Harold and Elizabeth Bixby.

Cat’s early education began in Bolton Landing, N.Y., until July 1934, when her family moved to Shanghai, China. In 1937, when the Japanese invaded Shanghai, they were forced to flee to the Philippines, where they remained until April 1938, when they flew back to the USA on Pan American’s China Clipper.

Cat lived a very fulfilling life, and lived every day with an uncommon joie de vivre, instilled by her parents. Travel started at an early age, as her father was sent to China for Pan American Airways in 1933. Her father, Harold, was a primary financial backer of Charles Lindbergh’s flight to Paris in 1927 and was credited with naming the plane the “Spirit of St. Louis.” Charles Lindbergh introduced him to Juan Trippe of Pan American Airways who hired him on the spot and sent him to China to establish airmail and passenger routes for Pan American’s minority-owned interest in the China National Aviation Corporation. In order to establish credibility with the Chinese, Harold moved his wife and four daughters to Shanghai in July of 1934.

Cat had private tutors while in China, and upon her return to the U.S., she attended Bronxville public schools, and Foxhollow School in Lenox, Mass. She attended Catherine Gibbs School in New York where she learned secretarial skills. Her interest in helping with the war effort inspired her to take a job at the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and then to Revere Copper and Brass Co. making shell casings. She then moved to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy Civilian Civil Service employee.

After World War II, she married William F. Barrett Jr. on October 12, 1946 in Bolton Landing, N.Y., and moved to their home in Great Barrington where they resided for the next 50 years. On top of raising five children, Cat was a consummate craftsperson. She knitted voraciously, often making up things as she went. She did needlepoint, she painted with watercolors, she had a ceramic studio for years, she was an avid sailor, and often took chartered sailing cruises. She enjoyed gardening, and was a gifted floral arranger. She served on the Conservation Commission in Great Barrington, and was active in both the Great Barrington and Lenox Garden Clubs, serving as president for both clubs. She sat on the boards of Berkshire Country Day School, Chesterwood, Berkshire Botanical Garden, Massachusetts Audubon Society, The Catboat Association, Foxhollow School and the Rudolf Steiner School. She was also a member of the Congregational Church Choir. Cat loved to travel and in addition to China and the Philippines, she visited Greece, Tahiti, Antarctica, Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears, the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Ecuador, and birded Big Bend, Texas, Monhegan Island Maine, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. In Florida, she was active with the Caloosahatchee Bird Club, quilting, honing her painting skills and singing in the church choir. She also volunteered on the Hospice floor at Shell Point.

She is survived by her five children; William F. Barrett III and his wife, the Rev. Patricia R. Barrett; Margery (Jill) B. Barrett Johnson and her husband Alex; Peter S. Barrett and his wife Peggy; Samuel C. Barrett and his wife Mary and Benjamin C. Barrett and his wife Cheryl as well seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and many, many nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her three sisters Frances Caldwell, Elizabeth Hawkins and Hebe Schafer, as well as her husband of 58 years, William F. Barrett Jr., who died on January 14, 2004.

Memorial plans are not yet finalized. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Massachusetts Audubon, 208 South Great Road, Lincoln, MA 01773.

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