Barbara Ann Morrison of Oak Bluffs died suddenly at her home on April 27. She was 79.
She was born Jan. 18, 1934. After attending Quinnipiac College, she first visited the Island in the summer of 1956. Barbara fell in love with the Island and soon realized it was where she wanted to raise her children. In 1967 she and her then-husband, Frank Welch, left Hamden, Conn., together with their three children, Thomas, Bonnie-Jo and Christopher, and made Martha’s Vineyard their home. Later, a new family member, their youngest son, Brian Welch, was born on the Island.
In the summer of 1960, before Barbara made the Vineyard her home, she opened her first store called The Yankee Bazaar, in Edgartown. Every item in that first store was hand-crafted by her. Later she transitioned from crafting to retail gifts. This proved to be a tough experience for a young woman in what was at the time a male-dominated environment. Her determination, strength and tenacity were lifelong skills that served her well. Ultimately she succeeded in the retail environment, and over the course of her life would go on to own and operate businesses in Carmel, Calif., Eureka, Ark., St. Petersburg, Fla. and ultimately back on Martha’s Vineyard. Barbara was responsible for mentoring her close friend Gerry Averill, all four of her children as well as two daughters in law and one son in law to become Island business owners. Forty three years later her original business location remains in the family. Her daughter Bonnie-Jo Hakala carries on the retail tradition on Dock street in Edgartown, running her store in the same building, now, the Ice Cream and Candy Bazaar. After Barbara’s first marriage ended, travel took her to Carmel, Calif., where she opened The Nutty Needle Nook West and met her second husband, James Morrison, who was in the Army and stationed at Fort Ord. Jim soon retired and together they traveled the country.
Her family was her life and hearing that her first grandchild, Jessica Welch, was about to be born, Barbara returned to the Vineyard once again. It was here that she and Jim built a wonderful life together. They welcomed three more grandchildren, Heather Welch, Andrew Hakala and Brendan Welch, opened several businesses and spent time free time nurturing a large flower garden.
The same generous woman who mentored so many in business extended her heart to the community. She volunteered to help those in need by offering to assist with many local charities, working with the Fuel Assistance program, and literally knitting hundreds of sweaters and hats for Guide Post’s Knit for Kids. She was an early and active member of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Booster Club where she started the tradition of making sure that the players from the off-Island teams “went home with a full belly.” Her love of animals was a lifelong passion expressed in the raising of springer spaniels and the showing of Siamese and Burmese cats.
In her later years Barbara traveled extensively. Many of her favorite places to visit included the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Italy, Thailand, Portugal, Alaska, Mexico, London, Wales, Scotland and Hawaii. She was an incredible woman, strong and deeply kind-hearted, and will be greatly missed by her adoring family. She leaves behind son Thomas Welch and wife Laurie of Oak Bluffs, daughter Bonnie-Jo Hakala and husband Paul of Oak Bluffs, son Christopher Welch and wife Karin of Oak Bluffs, son Brian Welch and wife Lorna of Oak Bluffs, grandchildren Jessica Welch, Heather Welch, Andrew Hakala and Brendan Welch. She was predeceased by her husband, James Morrison. Barbara will be interred beside her beloved husband at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the VNA of Martha’s Vineyard: 455 State Road PMB 312, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, or Helping Homeless Animals: 25 June Avenue, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
A previous version of this obituary mistakenly omitted the names of survivors Christopher and Karin Welch of Oak Bluffs. The Gazette regrets the error.