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Barbara Hollister McDonnell, of West Hartford, widow of Robert Q McDonnell, Jr passed away Friday January 6, 2017 after a brief illness. Barb was born in Springfield, MA, June 29, 1921 to A. Dwight and Ethel J. Hollister. She grew up in Springfield and attended schools there. Barb was a member of the Girl Scouts of America and earned the Golden Eaglet. Barb graduated from University of North Carolina Women's College with a BS in Physical Education. While at UNC, Barb participated in many sports and social clubs. During the summers she was a counselor at Camp Quinibeck in Ely, VT and camps on Cape Cod. A beautiful swimmer, she was head of the waterfront at a camp in Orleans. Barb returned to Springfield after graduation and was a Physical Education Teacher at Classical High School. She was known to her students as 'Holly'. Barb met her husband, Bob, on the ski slope at Blandford Ski Club, MA. They were married in 1950 and moved to Pittsfield, MA as Bob was employed by Eaton Paper. Barb and Bob volunteered at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Pittsfield. Barb continued to remain active in physical education by refereeing girls' basketball games. Barb joined the Junior League of Pittsfield and volunteered in many of projects that the organization sponsored. Barb and Bob enjoyed 56 years of married life skiing, dancing, playing tennis, golf, paddle tennis and bridge, spending summers first at the McDonnell family's home at Highgate Springs, VT and later at Moody Beach, ME. After their son, Steve, was born the family moved to West Hartford where Barb joined the Suburban Woman's Club and remained active in the Junior League of Hartford. While in the League, Barb co-chaired The Clothes Horse Thrift Shop, and worked on Show House committees. Later she was a member of the Souper Sustainers, a group that serves meals at Loaves and Fishes in Hartford. Barb was a member of The Country Club of Farmington and played golf and paddle tennis into her 80's. Barb was famous for her annual Christmas party where the house was full of good friends, food and cocktails. She had the magical gift of never appearing to be in the kitchen during the party, but somehow everything was served. She and Bob also had friends up to Moody Beach, ME where the girls would scout out the restaurants during the week so when the husbands came up for the weekend everything was in place. They called it 'creeping'. Lobsters and steamers were always a must, as well as bocce and boogie boarding. Our family has such a gift from Barb. She included us in her parties and vacations at Moody, and skiing at Stowe. Barb and Bob's friends became our friends and we still laugh when we think of all the fun and stories. Our children's friends knew Grandma too and spent time up at Moody. She came to both of her granddaughters' weddings last year and this year. We will miss her humming a tune while she rolled out the dough for gingerbread cookies or her famous pie crust for apple pie. We will never forget her and her kind and generous heart and how much fun she was to be with. Barb is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Stephen and Kathi McDonnell of Simsbury and granddaughters, Kristin McDonnell Kasputis and her husband Jeffrey of Somerville MA and Ashley McDonnell and her husband Dr. Ryan Madigan of Cambridge, MA. She is also survived by her sister, Marjorie VanNatter of Priest River, Idaho and her sons David and Douglas VanNatter and their families. There will be no calling hours. Service will be at the convenience of the family. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the First Church of West Hartford 12 S Main St West Hartford, CT 06107. Taylor & Modeen Funeral Home West Hartford has care of arrangements. For online condolences, please visit