Barbara Redmond of Islip, who spent three decades counseling the terminally ill and their families, died peacefully this week, her family said. She was 71.
“Ironically, she was funny. She had a sense of humor,” her daughter, Kate Redmond-Eubanks, said.
“She had a passion for life and lived life. She felt that was her calling: helping families and people cross over to the other side,” Redmond-Eubanks, also an Islip resident, said.
After tragedies in her own life, Redmond realized more than 35 years ago that she wanted to help others cope with impending death, Redmond-Eubanks said.
Redmond’s father died when she was 9. She lost a son, age 11, when he was hit by a Long Island Rail Road train at a crossing in Islip in 1979. Her mother died the year after. She lost her other son to a fatal seizure in 2007 when he was 32.
She was born Barbara O’Brien in the Bronx on June 19, 1945. She was 16 years old and working as a volunteer at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan when she met her future husband, Michael Redmond.
They dated while she was attending Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing and married on Oct. 22, 1966. They moved to Islip in 1970 and she worked at Sunrise Manor Nursing home while attending Stony Brook University, where she earned her nursing degree in 1980.
She later worked at Southside Hospital as a community health nurse. She left there in about 1999 to work at Christa House in West Babylon, which closed in 2009 after a decade of providing shelter and companionship to impoverished AIDS patients as they neared death.
“Her whole life was devoted to making sure people died with dignity,” her daughter said.
“I can remember people calling the house daily. She listened to them and told them they’re not going crazy. She gave them hope,” her daughter said.
She was a leader of the Respect Life Ministry at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in East Islip and helped arrange bus trips to Washington, D.C., for the annual Rally for Life.
She was also a catechist at St. Mary’s, giving religious instruction to others, and attended 7:30 a.m. Mass on days she was not working.
“She was big on Mother Teresa. That was her role model. She felt that you could do great things by doing small things,” her daughter said. “We were truly blessed to have her in our life.”
Visiting was scheduled for Friday from 2-4:30 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Overton Funeral Home in Islip. The funeral Mass will be held at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary’s, followed by burial at Oakwood Cemetery in Bay Shore.
In addition to her husband and daughter, Redmond is survived by three grandchildren.