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Obituary: Alice Irwin Barnes

Friends Grad Leaves Legacy For Best Friends

Alice Irwin Barnes, who grew up in Levittown passed away in November with her family at her side. She was 50.

A rare and aggressive carcinoid sarcoma was revealed during an unrelated surgery, and despite the best efforts of the excellent doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering, it was a short battle.

But the sorrow of Alice’s passing is tempered by the good she was able to do for those she left behind. “Alice was always taking care of other people, and never herself,” said her husband, George Barnes. “Even at the end, she was always very positive.”

He writes: Alice to the end continued to think about others more than herself. She had us send direct donations to an organization called Home for Good Dog Rescue, where we’d adopted our dog, Cubby, this past May.

Shortly after Alice died, I got a call from a woman named Toni Ann Turco, founder and director at Home for Good Dog Rescue, who said she had received many phone calls from people who wanted to donate in Alice’s memory.  She was so grateful because they work on almost no budget, and this meant so much to them.

I told her about how Cubby had been Alice’s protector during her illness, and how he had cuddled with her on the couch when she was in pain, or sat by the couch and wouldn’t leave her side if she couldn’t have him on the couch. I had assumed, and told her as much, that Cubby had come from a family in Georgia that must have treated him well and allowed him on the furniture because within a day of joining our family we found him sprawled out on the love seat in the family room sound asleep.

She told me it was just the opposite—that Cubby was about a day away from being euthanized when HFGDR arrived in Georgia and got him to a foster home.  At the time, he had virtually no fur on his lower torso, was malnourished, and had a horrible skin rash. He didn’t trust anyone (easily understood) and would cower in fear if anyone came near him.

Alice always felt that Cubby brought a breath of life into the house that was missing after we lost Becky, and felt there was a reason we found Cubby and brought him home.

Ella, Cait and I believe that the reason was to look after Alice while she was sick and bring her love and companionship when she was home alone and needed it more than ever.

Last night Toni Ann called to say that at Home For Good Dogs Rescue recent capital fundraising dinner, she told everyone Cubby’s story and how he helped Alice through her illness. She said that by the time she was done, she was in tears, as was the rest of the room.

This past Monday, she got a phone call. A woman who had been at the event and her husband had decided to make a donation of $10,000 in Alice’s memory. HFGDR is in the process of moving to a new office, and one of the rooms will be dedicated in Alice’s memory, along with a plaque bearing her name and Cubby’s, and the photo of our family (taken the day we adopted Cubby).

It was a shock to say the least, and as Ella put it, “it’s hard to believe that one stray dog from Georgia coming into our lives could change the world for Mom and for future dogs everywhere...he was a true blessing in disguise.”

At latest count, Alice’s request had brought in more than $13,000 for the organization’s dog rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

Born in Hempstead and raised in Levittown, Alice lost her own mother at the age of 10. After graduating from Friends Academy in 1981, she earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in political science and one in philosophy, from the University of Rochester. She and her family moved to Verona, NJ in 1990. She was an instructor for Gallagher Associates in Wayne, NJ, and previously worked at the Daily News Record of Fairchild Publications in Manhattan.  

She was the wife of George F. Barnes; mother of Ella and Caitlin, and the stepdaughter of Carol Irwin. She is also survived by her sister, Eileen Gill and her husband, Thomas; her brother, Christopher Irwin and his wife, Carol; her brother-in-law, Carl Barnes and his wife, Barbara Heffner, and her brother-in-law, Marc Alan; her godson, Brian Gill, and her nephews, Robert Barnes, Thomas Irwin, Gerard Irwin and Keith Ellwood.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Home for Good Dog Rescue, P.O. Box 324, Summit, N.J. 07902, www.homeforgooddogs.org—or any local dog shelter—would be appreciated.

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Communities value their libraries, and at the Levittown Library, the library staff, in turn, truly appreciates their patrons. Employees at the Levittown Public Library, with a talent for knitting, demonstrate their commitment to the community’s teens by making “amigurumi”—small knitted or crocheted stuffed toys—for use in the reading program. 

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