Because of her green thumb, natural talent and generosity in beautifying her surroundings, the near-lifelong Thorold resident was celebrated as the city's Senior Citizen of 2021.
At a ceremony at the Thorold Senior Citizens Centre last week, Thorold Garden Club members and friends described the myriad ways Berry has enriched her community during the past several decades.
She taught elementary school from 1971 through 2000 and remained busy teaching Sunday school, Vacation Bible school, and volunteering as a pillar of her church in the years following her retirement.
Since 1989, Berry has always found time to plant flower gardens around the Thorold Library, and held various executive positions on the Friends of the Library group, actively volunteering at book and bake sales, enabling Library staff to purchase a fireplace, stalls for the children's department, and a microfilm reader to help patrons access archives.
“In her humble, quiet manner,” noted co-nominator LouAnne Wronski, “she never seeks the limelight, “but was the backbone” of the volunteer organizations she embraced.
According to co-nominator Patsy Ingoldsby, “Barb has been a member of the Horticultural Society (now called the Thorold Garden Club) for 60 years,” holding various volunteer executive positions throughout the decades. She also lovingly tended gardens at the Thorold Community Activities Group and the Lock 7 Tourist Information Centre, “and after 40 years has just retired from those plantings.”
“All the (Thorold) schools benefit from the schools' annual tree plantings, and I don't think she ever missed a Tree of Life program at Lakeview Cemetery,” continued Ingoldsby, describing the annual plantings honouring fellow horticultural society members with new trees erected at Thorold's cemetery.
In addition, she provided milkweed to feed butterflies, stated Ingoldsby. “She's a true nature lover. What makes Barb stand out so much were her many acts of kindness; visiting elders or bereaved members in nursing homes for decades,” typically accompanied by the gift of a plant, meal or a dessert.
“If you live to be 100, Barb will knock on your door at Christmas with a poinsettia. Thorold is a better place because of Barb Berry.”
“You are a role model for our society,” said Mayor Terry Ugulini, presenting her with a plaque from the City of Thorold. “You have made a difference in the lives of many.”
Additional presentations were made to Berry from Marie Chamberlain (representing MPP Jeff Burch), Niagara Regional Councillor Tim Whalen, and Thorold Senior Citizens Association representative Al Sherwin.