Francis Barrett

June 28, 1945 ~ May 1, 2019 (age 73)


Francis M. Barrett, born on June 28, 1945 to Mary Agnes Huff Barrett and Francis Barrett, Sr., at Misericordia Hospital in Philadelphia, Fran was the oldest of three children who arrived in quick succession at the beginning of the Baby Boom. With Maryellen and Michael, Fran was fortunate to grow up in a loving home in the predominantly Irish-Catholic Schuylkill neighborhood, which provided easy access to childhood adventures in South Philadelphia, Center City, and University City, as well as the industrial areas along the Schuylkill River. With his brother and sister, Fran attended St. Anthony's School in South Philadelphia from 1951-1959, walking 11 blocks four times per day, in the years before yellow buses and school lunches were common. Fran also served as an altar boy for St. Anthony's Parish, preferring the early Mass, so he could make the most of his Sundays with family and friends. During these years, potential locations for hide and seek ranged from the University of Pennsylvania Museum, to Fitler Square, to construction sites, and the Naval Home. Like all of the neighborhood kids, Fran enjoyed sports programs and dances at the University House on Lombard Street, and spent many days at the South Street Pool. When the pool was "girls-only", Fran and his many buddies would escape the summer heat in the nearby river, diving from the South Street bridge, fishing, and exploring the shorelines. As a child, Fran also spent a lot of time in the country and at the shore, with frequent family vacations to Medford Lakes, Green Lane, and half-summers in Ventnor and Wildwood, where his parents would often have a house right on the bay. Fran was also a Boy Scout, and loved camping and hiking with family members who were veterans of the Second World War, and excellent storytellers. At Bishop Neumann High School, Fran (who was also known as Frank or Franny, but probably as "Francis" only to the priests and nuns), expanded his circle of friends and developed his love of 1950's and 1960's music. He was a good student, with a remarkable memory and gift for engineering, but felt limited by a school or office environment. Even though his parents would have happily provided the opportunity, Fran passed on college to join his father in the family business. While this went well, Fran still craved more time outdoors and the chance to work on something big, so he became a Boilermaker, joining Local 13. As a skinny, but strong kid, Fran was assigned many of the dirtiest and most dangerous assignments in his first years as a boilermaker, but he loved his job and looked forward to every day. No day started too early or ended too late, and as a young adult Fran was able to buy a beautiful home with a large yard, in Springfield, Pennsylvania. In addition to his sense of adventure cultivated during youth, Fran's rigorous emphasis on safety and enthusiastic participation in continuing education, made him an effective leader and he was frequently the foreman on major power plant projects. Having witnessed injury and death early in his career, he mentored many younger union boilermakers on how to have a long and safe career, and look out for one another. Until the day he retired, Fran was always looking to get better at his profession, learning the newest technologies and working to minimize injuries on his watch. While Fran was committed to development and progress, he was also an avid environmentalist for his whole life. He loved working outside and observing nature. He would keep extra trash bags in his trunk, so he could clean up parks and streams during his walks. He enjoyed gardening and most of his vacations included opportunities to explore natural areas. The one thing more important to Fran than his work was his family. As a child and young adult, Fran developed strong bonds with cousins, aunts and uncles on both the Huff and Barrett sides, and other branches of the family that lived in the neighborhood. He was a great storyteller and every conversation with him was memorable. He was close to his parents and siblings and called his mother on the phone for a half hour every evening until she passed at the age of 96. One of his favorite places was Uncle Joe Huff's farm, both for the land and the people who would join him there for annual extended family gatherings. His visits were always a special occasion for his nephews, niece, and the many children of his many cousins. "Where's Uncle Fran?" has always been a common question within our family. By 1980, Fran was well established in his union, his career, St. Kevin's parish, and his new neighborhood in Springfield. As his niece has said "With Franny, there are no strangers." Fran could meet someone once, really get to know them in a short conversation and remember them 50 years later, and he really did take an interest in everyone he met - which leads us to the most important person Fran ever met - Elaine Edwards Barrett. From the time they met until the time they married in 1985, Fran and Elaine seem destined to be together. Fran had an enthusiasm for Elaine that he never had for anyone else - this was evident during the initial meet-the-parents dinners and Barrett family vacations before they were married, and never diminished. They have created a beautiful home together and enjoyed almost 34 years of marriage. In addition to their life in Springfield, they have traveled extensively, including to England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and St. Thomas. In Elaine, Fran found both the love of his life and his best friend. Thanks also to Elaine, Fran joined the Edwards side of the family, and had countless wonderful experiences with her parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, and nephews. For almost 40 years, Fran had a second family that loved him as much as the first. Whether the Barrett or Edwards side, Fran could be counted on to celebrate all of the major life events of his brothers, sisters, niece and nephews. He was generous, and festive, and brought energy to everything he did. From his early years to the present, Fran was consistent in his priorities - family, friends, faith, hard work, and love of the outdoors. He remembered everyone he met, and we will always remember him, his adventures, and his enthusiasm for life. Relatives, friends, and members of Boilermakers Local 13 are invited to Francis' viewing on Monday, May 6, 2019 from 9:30 to 11:15 at St. Kevin Church, 200 West Sproul Road, Springfield, PA. Funeral Mass to follow at 11:30 AM. Interment SS Peter and Paul Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the American Heart Association, 1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA 19103 would be appreciated.

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