Barbara A. Corey

PETERSHAM — Barbara Ann (Cunningham) Corey, 90, of Petersham, was an avid gardener, conservationist and community patron who was committed to being a well-informed citizen. She was born in 1927, in Stowe, Ohio, to Mary Elizabeth (Murphy) and Spurgeon Haddon Cunningham. At age 2, she and her family moved to Cohasset, Mass., where she grew up as the fifth of eight Cunningham children, with Spurgeon Jr., Paul, James, Nancy, John, Connie and Perry. She had an idyllic childhood in Cohasset swimming in the sea and playing tennis as well as tending the 96 tomato plants in the family garden. She graduated from Thayer Academy, in Braintree, in 1945. In the last few years she enjoyed attending her grandchildren’s events at her alma mater.

In 1953, Barbara married Roger Lyman Corey, of Canton, with whom she raised a family, living first in Medway and, from the summer of 1969 on, in Petersham. They worked together to care for their town, their family and their beautiful gardens. They were married for 50 years before Roger passed away in 2003.

Barbara earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health education from Worcester State College, while working as a reading tutor at Mahar Regional High School in Orange. She was a nighttime volunteer at a suicide hotline in Worcester and executive secretary of the American Minor Breeds Conservancy, an organization devoted to preserving endangered breeds of livestock where she discovered her favorite minor breed, the colorfully named mule-footed hog.

For many years, until retirement in 1998, Barbara was the inaugural coordinator of the North Quabbin Community Coalition. In 1994 the local Chamber of Commerce awarded “Citizen of the Year” to Barbara. In tribute to her tireless advocacy and can-do spirit, the annual Barbara Corey Award was established, to honor someone from the North Quabbin community who exhibits “her passion for life, values and love for the citizens of our region.”

In addition to this work, Barbara was an early member of the Our Daily Bread Food Co-op, was both an active volunteer and board member of the Petersham Conservation Commission, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, the Petersham Arts Center, and the First Parish Church, Unitarian among other organizations.

Barbara passed away on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, serenely at home with family by her side. She leaves three children, Roger, Jr. of Copenhagen, Denmark, William of Durham, N.C., and Sarah of Hingham, their spouses and children, many nieces and nephews scattered around the world, and friends too numerous to count who care about their world, the environment and giving back to their community.

A Celebration of Barbara’s life will be held in the spring when the flowers are blooming.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, 1461 Old Keene Rd., Athol, MA 01331 or the Petersham Arts Center, P.O. Box 235, Petersham, MA 01366.

Witty’s Funeral Home, 158 South Main St., Orange, is directing the arrangements.

You may offer your sympathy online at

PETERSHAM — Barbara A. (Cunningham) Corey, 90, of South Street, a longtime advocate for the betterment of life in the North Quabbin area, died peacefully at her home she so loved and enjoyed, on Thursday evening, Dec. 14, 2017.

Funeral arrangements are pending with Witty’s Funeral Home, 158 South Main St., Orange.

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Athol Daily News

PO Box 1000
225 Exchange Street
Athol, MA 01331
Phone: (978) 249-3535


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