Rensselaer- John A. “Jack” Barrett, 94, died peacefully at home with his loving daughter, Kate, by his side on Sunday, February 17, 2019. Jack was born in Brooklyn, NY on July 12, 1924, the first child of Edmund A. Barrett and Mae Smith. In 1932, the family moved to Rensselaer where the “hollow” was heaven to a boy growing up.
Jack quit high school in 1942 to join the U.S. Coast Guard. While serving aboard the C.G. Cutter Calypso off the Atlantic coast, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism for rescuing survivors of a torpedoed U.S. vessel. The Coast Guard then sent him to radio school in Atlantic City, NJ and while there, he spotted a waitress, Betty Hawk, turned to a friend and said, “I’m going to marry that girl” – and he did, on June 18, 1944 in the rectory of St. John the Evangelist Church in Rensselaer – a 71-year marriage that lasted until Betty’s death in 2016.
After the war, Jack finished his high school education at Van Rensselaer and went on to graduate from R.P.I. in 1953 with a degree in Nuclear Physics. He had a long career in Benet Labs at the Watervliet Arsenal.
Jack and Betty had a wonderful group of friends in the “Card Club,” friendships that lasted all their lives. Jack enjoyed good times with Betty: attending Broadway shows, jitterbugging at the K of C, trips to Ireland to visit “the Irish Cousins” in Limerick, and camping and sailing on Lake George.
Jack was a strong and loving husband and father who cared for his family and friends his entire life. He was very appreciative of all that life had given him. We never heard him complain about anything, ever, and never heard a swear or a slur pass his lips. And, so, Mom and Dad, goodbye from all of us: A love like yours only happens to the best and to a few.
He is survived by five children, John (Joanne) Barrett, James Barrett, Kathleen Kent, Nancy Barrett and Sharon (Colin) Campbell; ten grandchildren, Jennifer (Christopher Kailing), Daniel (Tammy), Liam (Sarah), and Sean Barrett, Brian (Bobbi) Kent and Laura (Michael) Dalton, Amelia and Charlotte Ellis, Graham and Shannon (Kevin Gamello) Campbell; and eight great-grandchildren, Addison and Kealey Barrett, Eden, Madeleine, and Clara Dalton, Colin Gamello, Jackson Barrett, and Mattias Kailing; and his nephew and niece Edmund DiDonna and Lisa McGrail, the children of Jack’s recently deceased sister, Mary Ellen Barrett. He was sadly predeceased by his grandson, Holden Barrett Ellis.
Relatives and friends may call on Thursday, February 21st from 4:00 to 7:00 at W.J. Lyons Jr. Funeral Home, 1700 Washington Avenue, Rensselaer. A Mass of Christian Burial and celebration of Jack’s life will be held on Friday, February 22nd at 9:00 in the morning at St. John the Evangelist—St. Joseph’s Church, Herrick Street, Rensselaer. Interment will be in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, East Greenbush, NY.