Remembering Lou Barrett

Lucille “Lou” Barrett — a member of that great generation of post-war Westporters who helped define this town for half a century — died early today. She was 92 years old.

Lou was a lifelong educator. She began in Greenwich Village in the 1940s, and spent many years in the Westport school system. After she retired, she became a sought-after writing coach. Perhaps best known as a Staples High School English teacher, she was beloved by colleagues and students for her deep wisdom, gentle nature, and genuine concern for everyone she met.

Lucille "Lou" Barrett

Lucille “Lou” Barrett

As a founding member of Temple Israel, she helped create one of the town’s most active social justice institutions. As first principal of its religious school, she made sure that there was as strong an emphasis on current affairs as on Jewish education.

Lou was also a gifted poet. She was published frequently — including 5 collections that explore fearlessly and with intensity her Jewish heritage, her childhood in Brookly, and her maturing to adulthood and old age — and never missed a chance to pass on her love for the craft.

Her son George says:

Mom was humble, fierce in her convictions, devoted, and always focused on the needs of others. I have heard over the years many stories from people I don’t even know about how my mother transformed their lives, or started their careers, or pushed them to take a chance on something in which they believed.

She believed in her students, her children and her friends, and strove to help them see in themselves the strength and beauty she saw in them. She treated every one with honesty and respect.

She was also the connecting tissue for an enormous family ecosystem that now spans 4 generations, and multiple continents.

Lou’s husband, Herb, died this past May, at 93. The Barretts were married for 73 years. Lou is survived by 5 children, 10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is set for Tuesday (October 6, 12:30 p.m.), at Temple Israel, with private burial service to follow. The family will sit shiva after hte burial at the home of Marvin and Joan Frimmer in Westport. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Congregation Kol Ami, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, or Temple Israel, Westport.

23 responses to “Remembering Lou Barrett

  1. Lou was truly one of a kind. As a new teacher at Staples in the 60’s I was in awe of her energy and her relentless drive to serve those in need and her devotion to teaching. Lou was one of those people on the faculty that set the high standards that made Staples the outstanding school it was. She and Herb were wonderful, giving people. They will be missed.

  2. Vivianne Pommier

    Please send Sarah my most heartfelt condolences. Her parents were wonderful people and neighbors. Vivianne

  3. Lou was terrific. That’s all. She will be missed, but many of us will carry with us always a piece of the droll wit that was Lou Barrett.

  4. Pamela Singer

    Lovely POST for a loving soul…

  5. Diane (Nickelsberg) Greenwald

    A wonderful teacher — she was a Conrad scholar and in my senior year English class, she guided our way through the Heart of Darkness with a steady, clear light. What a privilege to have been her student. My condolences to her family –

  6. Dan,
    I think you captured Lu, not an easy assignment.

  7. Scott Brodie

    My condolensces to Lou’s daughter, Sarah (my classmate) and the rest of the family. She was beloved by all who knew her. —

  8. I was fortunate to teach with two members of Lou’s family… Lou, herself, and Dave, her son. Her sons George and Dan were in my classes, as well. Altogether they enriched my and my family’s lives immensely. I mourn Lou’s passing and extend my deeply felt condolences to her family.

  9. After retiring, Lou Barett returned to Staples in 1992 as a part time instructor teaching my AP English class. We never knew how old she was, but we knew she was a bit more seasoned than the average teacher. Her energy, however, was formidable. She managed to be both challenging and caring. She was smart and helped me improve my skills in analysis and writing.

    I remember at the end of the year she opened her home to us and had an AP English class party where we presented our final presentations. She was a teacher who cared a great deal for her students and someone I remember with fondness 20 years later.

    Consolences to her family.

  10. Gerry Kuroghlian

    I was very fortunate to have shared a portion of my life with Lou and Herb Barrett. As Lou’s office mate at Staples High School ,I watched and learned from a master teacher. We jointly created “Mythology and The Bible as Literature” which was greatly enhanced by the poetry Lou wrote to accompany the course. Her love of all children, literatur, music, art and the town of Westport were an inspiration to the entire English department.. Lou loved her husband with the passion of a teenage girl. Her children and grandchildren, and great grandchildren were the embodiment of the love Lou and Herb had since they met as teens. in Brooklyn. The Barretst served as models for well lived lives. Our condolences to their family

  11. xoxoxo to George, Sarah, David spreading out to the rest of family xoxoxo

  12. Kendall Anderson

    I had the pleasure of knowing both Herb and Lou Barrett from my work at Hall Brooke Hospital.
    They were both extraordinary people who were devoted to helping others.
    God bless them both.

  13. There’s more! At Rosh Hashanah Lou was in with a challah and then, latke, cooking in the back of the English office, for Hanukkah! I am sad to learn she is gone, but tremendously happy to have known her…–Karl Decker

  14. Dan, I appreciate the care and clarity in your article. Lou and Herb exemplified lives lovingly lived and are survived by a lasting legacy.

  15. Peggy Heinrich

    Whenever I read a good book or see great theater, I think of Lou. We were long-time friends and in a group together reading great classics. Her comments were always insightful, amusing and original and furthered my understanding of whatever piece we were discussing. Lou was a very special lady, super-smart and full of compassion and understanding. I miss her. She made a difference in every life she touched.

  16. Linda (Pomerantz) Novis

    I often saw Lou and Herb,in Sally’s Place..and years ago,my parents knew them in Weston..(In high school,I’d accompanied on piano-Dan’s cello recitals.)
    Sending my thoughts to the family..they touched many lives.

  17. I now know where Josh gets his brilliance.

  18. Susan Hopkins

    Lovely tribute(s) to Lou Barrett: a role model for humanity.

  19. Gerry Kuroghlian

    Lou Barrett’s service at Temple Israel was proof that love can transcend death. The love between Herb and Lou was clearly evident in their children, grand children and great grand children. Dan’s cello tribute, Josh’s singing, George and Dave’s remarks combined with the reading of several of Lou’s poems , and her last letter to one of her grandson’s was simply amazing. . It was one of the most moving services I have witnessed.
    I was extremely fortunate to have taught with bright, creative and imaginative people who were not teaching to a test. They were concerned with the students in front of them and used multiple paths to reach their goals.
    Lou Barrett’s knowledge of literature, music, art, psychology, theology and poetry mixed with an ample dose of passion for teaching made her a woman of valor and substance. She will always be a part of my family memories. Her family’s tribute was the essence of what they learned from their mom and dad, grandmother and grandfather

  20. Thanks, Dr. K. for that description. I had very much wanted to attend but my travel schedule did not allow.

  21. Thank you, Dan, and everyone else for such beautiful reminiscences. I knew neither Lou nor Herb, but felt like I got to know them from reading this thread. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear how remarkable both were. I went to school with two of their children, Sarah and George, and they, too, were/are amazing people. I remember both fondly.

  22. David Schaffer

    Lou Barrett was one of the “cool” teachers at Staples in the 1970s, I was very fortunate to have had her for AP English. She certainly bolstered my appreciation for literature and writing. Nice tribute Dan, thanks.