Barbara Haber even saw going to the grocery store as a chance to make new friends.
“My mom was really very special — the most positive person I had ever met in my life,” said her daughter, Jill M. Coffey, 58. “She would talk to everyone. If she was standing in line, it was an opportunity for her to meet people. . . . She would talk to the cashier and get to know everything about them.”
Haber, 89, a former teacher, librarian, author and longtime resident of Baldwin, died Jan. 3 of pneumonia at the Cornwall Manor nursing home in Cornwall, Pennsylvania.
“She was always happy and smiling,” recalled Coffey, of Manhattan. “She never had a negative moment and would say, ‘You have to take the good with the bad.’ ”
Much of Haber’s happiness came from her extensive travels, bicycling with her husband, Walter, 88, of Cornwall, to whom she was married for 58 years. The couple loved their bikes, whether riding them along Wantagh Parkway, in Montauk, at Jones Beach or around Europe.
Helmut and Linda Scherner were close friends of the Habers and spoke about how the couple enjoyed each other. “When they lived in Baldwin, her husband was director of the Baldwin Library,” said Helmut Scherner, 76. “We knew her at least 30 years,” Scherner, a retired electrical contractor, said of himself and his wife, Linda, 73.
Scherner said he got to know the Lebanon, Pennsylvania-born Haber when he was head of the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce in 1976 and she was his secretary.
“Over the years, we became friends, and then in later years when they moved to Pennsylvania, we visited them,” Scherner said. “She was very bubbly, a very nice lady and they were a very nice family.”
The Habers lived in Baldwin for 17 years before retiring and moving in 1986 to Barbara Haber’s childhood home near Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania.
Haber was the only child of the late U. Samuel and Ruth Donley Angle. She was a 1944 graduate of Lebanon High School, a 1948 graduate of Millersville State Teachers College (now Millersville University of Pennsylvania), and received a master’s degree in English from Cornell University.
In the 1950s, Haber worked as an English teacher and librarian at Henry Houck Elementary School in Lebanon, Annville-Cleona High School in Pennsylvania and Massapequa High School.
Coffey said her mother, who was a member of the Baldwin Historical Society, had many interests and was a talented writer. After developing a connection with a publisher of coffee table books, she wrote three: “The National Air and Space Museum,” “Washington” and “Pennsylvania,” all published by Smithmark Publishers Inc.
In addition to her husband and Coffey, survivors include daughter Holly A. Haber, of Dallas, son-in-law Thomas Coffey, of Manhattan, granddaughter Skyler Coffey, of Manhattan, and grandson Dashiell Pashley, of Dallas.
A funeral service was held for Haber on Jan. 6 in Annville, and she was buried at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery. Contributions in Haber’s name may be made to the Crazy Horse Memorial at 12151 Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD 57730, or crazyhorsememorial.org