Debbie Barron lived life as if it were a symphony

August 20, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." This continuing series will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Deborah Kay Barron, who died Aug. 12 at the age of 52. Her obituary appeared in the Aug. 14 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

Rose Sweeney spent some time on Friday, Aug. 11, watering the trees and filling the bird feeders in her oldest daughter's backyard on Lyles Drive.

"Debbie sat out on the deck watching the birds," Rose said. But Debbie also was pointing her finger at her mother and telling her how to fill the feeders and which trees needed more water than others.

"She was conducting right to the end," Rose said, noting that Debbie died the very next day at the age of 52.


A musician down deep in her soul, Deborah K. Barron lived her life as if it were a symphony, filled with many different components that blended, complemented and enriched each other.

A six-year struggle with cancer failed to keep her from her life symphony, which included family, friends, students and admirers.

Debbie's husband, Tom, spoke at his wife's funeral at the church where they were married nearly 30 years ago.

"I hope all of you know ... that Miss Debbie's work with you was a labor of love, second only to her love of family, and that it helped keep her alive for these past six years more than any chemo, pills or radiation she ever received," Tom said.

Her eldest son, Tommy, 26, said his best memories center around the trips the Barron family took in their camper to 49 of the 50 states.

"I guess the best one was the last big trip I was on, which was to Alaska in 1998," Tommy said. Married for three years, Tommy and his wife, Heather, live in Columbia, Md.

A drummer, Tommy is in a band at work.

Joey, 21, still is in college, studying mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. A clarinetist, he also has kept up with his music.

"I'll always remember going to music camp with mom," Joey said.

When his mother organized a band tournament at North Carroll High School a few years ago, Joey said she convinced the University of Maryland Band to come to his school and perform.

That way, both of her boys got to play - Joey in the high school band and Tommy in the university group.

A music teacher for many years in New York and Carroll County, Md., Debbie also co-founded the Encore Academy and Encore Community Orchestra in Westminster, Md.

If that wasn't enough, Debbie also played in the Columbia (Md.) Orchestra, performed with a community theater group in Westminster and was an adjunct professor at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College).

"She was my oldest daughter," Rose said, as she gathered with family and friends to talk about Debbie, who was born in Hagerstown in 1954.

Sister Cindy Moore arrived two years later, and Robin Twigg rounded out the family in 1961.

The love of music came early for Debbie.

"She had a friend next door who played the violin," Rose said. "We got her one for $50."

Figuring it might just be a passing fancy, Rose said Debbie's fifth-grade teacher wrote a note saying she was good and encouraged her to play.

Debbie continued her love of music in general, and violin in particular, into her college career, first at Shepherd College, and later at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Va., where she earned her degree in music education.

Mindy Niles worked with Debbie at Encore.

"We dedicated the May 21 concert to her this year," she said, noting that the week before, Debbie was at Johns Hopkins and found out the cancer had spread into her bones.

"But Debbie wasn't to be stopped," Mindy said.

Her influence over family and students was, and will continue to be, significant.

"My granddaughter, Kelcy Moore, who is 9, played at Debbie's viewing," Rose said.

Then there is Garth Knoch, who was told at age 8 that he never would be capable of playing the violin because he had 75 percent hearing loss in both ears.

Debbie took Garth on as a student, determined to help him realize his dream. Now 16, Garth not only plays the violin, but conducts, too.

In a letter written to Debbie recently, Garth thanked her for enriching his music, as well as his life, with her devotion and determination.

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