Barbara E. Houston

Barbara E. Houston (Nelson), age 76 of Gibbs Lane, Portsmouth, R.I., died peacefully at Rhode Island Hospital on Wednesday July 8, 2015 after bravely struggling with illness related complications. Throughout this chapter of her life, she remained the captain of her own ship, and her own mind, and mostly enjoyed living an independent lifestyle with a brave, and fierce outlook, and commentary on life. She was single at the time. Born in Rockville Centre, NY, she was the cherished daughter of Catherine, and Robert Nelson, and the only child of what she describes as always a very loving, and demonstrative family. Raised Roman Catholic, and a product of the 50's, she grew up into adult life embracing the role of "domestic goddess/hostess," finding much enjoyment from cooking, and entertaining family and friends, and throwing great dinner parties where raucous laughter, singing, and conversation were part and parcel of the threads of her life. With a very creative spirit, she had an inherent flair for interior design, and spent laborious hours crafting handmade, rubber stamped cards, and decoupage glass plates, which she often gave away as gifts. A graduate of Oceanside High School in NY, Barbara would later retire, having worked in a secretarial position before marrying. Some years later she moved to the Midwest where she enjoyed many happy years in a social community with a close knit circle of friends, before going back to her native roots, and settling in Rhode Island. There she would be closer to her daughter, Janice, son-n-law, Pat, and two granddaughters. "Babs," as she liked to be called, had many years sprinkled with joy and the promise of simpler, more carefree times reminiscent of her young adult life which helped to color her in, and define her. Over the past year or so, she would often speak with great fondness of those long, lazy summer days spent at the beach as a teenager with her best friend, Louise Ryals, enjoying sun brewed ice tea, and happily chewing your ear off, a talent that came organically to her throughout her life. For "Babs," it was like these times were etched gently in the sands of her thoughts, when she hadn't a care in the world, long before being afraid, or the unhappiness that comes from uncertainty had the chance to invade her mind...and that is the way I choose to remember her. Beach days, and youth represented some of the purest, least burdensome, and carefree times in her life. She often told me so. These were the stories that would wash over her often in our long trips together in the car, listening for the roll of the next upcoming wave, and in knowing the precise moment she and her friend would dive under while avoiding the frantic whistle blows of a frustrated lifeguard at all costs, the same way she endeavored to dodge the emotional, and physical waves of her medical conditions that ultimately swept her off her feet. During her lifetime, she enjoyed the companionship that can come with having a male friend, and trips to Long Island to spend time with her best friend, Louise. She also enjoyed taking in a show/movie, seeing a musical, or dining out. Always one to curl up with a good book, she was particularly interested in historical fiction, or political history, and was well versed on many of the old movie classics, Frank Sinatra, or NY, as well as anything to do with Marilyn Monroe's life, the Kennedy family, home decorating, or gardening. " She loved Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain,"...but never a bad hair day. Always fancying the more feminine things in life, she recently told me that she wanted to be remembered most as a "Girly Girl." She was, and will always remain, in my mind, as one of a kind. Never afraid to speak her mind, and never at a loss for words, she would always state her opinion with fierce conviction on anything ranging from pop culture topics to personal, or world problems.---But the roll of the ocean is gentle, and forgiving now, and our mother-daughter relationship, I'd like to think, renewed much like the ocean, called in by reverence, compassion, and a love that can be at peace, sleeping sweetly and eternally. She will be missed, no doubt, in ways I can't even imagine, and in every unexpected way. She is survived by a daughter, Janice Houston-Leo of North Kingstown, R.I., and two granddaughters, Briana Leo, 24 of Franklin, MA, and Jocelyn Leo, 15 of North Kingstown, R.I. A Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday July 14th at 6:30pm in The Butterfield Chapel 500 Pontiac Avenue Cranston.

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Louise Ryals - 07/14/2015

My dear, dear friend. How I weep at your passing and recall the many happy days we spent together both as teens and adults. We had such a long history together, and enjoyed recalling all those days past as well as discussing current topics and people of today. I dread not having our long Saturday morning telephone call ... where we would go over the events, both large and small, of the week past. I wish I could be at you service this afternoon, but being in New York, I have no way to get to Rhode Island. How we used to laugh at the term "travel challenged" a malady from which we both suffered. Even though I am not there in person, I am in spirit, my dear, dear friend.

Love, Louise

L Ryals - 07/20/2015

My sincere condolences to daughter, Janice, and grand daughters Briana and Jocelyn.

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