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It is with heavy hearts that Sept. 4 we had to say “until we meet again” to the Nana of our family. Marcia peacefully left her earthly life, in the beautiful afternoon sunlight, in her home. She was surrounded by her family, her ever-faithful dog Sammy, her plants, cookbooks, copper pots, platters, and all of the love that made her home a place to gather.
Marcia “Nana” Barden (Whiffen) was born in New Haven on Dec. 26, 1943, the daughter of Jean May Whiffen (Linsley) and Robert Westcott Whiffen. Now some might consider a birthday the day after Christmas was like drawing the short straw. However, Nana’s birthday was always a special one. It was a day to celebrate her amazing significance to our family.
She grew up in East Haven with her parents, grandparents, brother, and sister. In her late teens, she would travel to upstate New York in the summer to see her extended family, and that’s where she met her future husband, “Pa.” The two were inseparable from that moment on.
She married her teenage sweetheart and had two children, a little house in the woods, and a menagerie of animals.
Marcia’s desire to instill racial equality in her children led her to become the co-chair of the Fresh Air Fund in the early seventies. As kids, we had the fortune of meeting many other children from a diverse span of heritages. She taught us from a very young age, that right was right and wrong was most certainly wrong! She was not only a mentor to her own children, but to many, many children. To this day, we remain family with our Fresh Air family—all these decades later. She laid the foundation of kindness, compassion, honesty, and sound moral ethics in every young person she met. She created a legacy that will be honored and remembered for generations to come.
She had the opportunity to mentor once again. Two brothers from Vietnam needed a home here in the United States and she opened her doors with loving arms. In 1985, she became a foster mother to Hung and Michael T. Ho for ten years.
In January 1986, Marcia had the opportunity to become a mother once again, and James became a part of our family. James was also from Vietnam. He was 15 years old and looking for a family in the United States to become a part of. My mom and dad did just that! Our family grew that year and so did our hearts. Not everyone decides to become a mom again when their kids are 17 and 19, but Marcia did. Once again, we were shown the moral foundation that was being created for us as a family.
Generous to a fault Nana made her house into a home and invited everyone in. Big pots of food on the stove, cups of cheer in hand, and laughter around the table. Nana always had a way of bringing everyone together to gather. It certainly made for many magical memories
Her love for animals resonated completely with every animal that came into our home and there were lots! She would always say, how we care for animals says so much about us as people. Marcia built a legacy like few others do. She taught us so many valuable qualities we carry with us today. She was a true matriarch of our family and she will be missed more dearly than anyone can imagine.
Marcia is survived by her husband Arthur “Pa” Barden, her right arm and partner in life through nearly 55 years of marriage. She is also survived by her three children, Cathy Pendleton (Steven), Scott Barden (Allison), and James Thai (Emily), all of Clinton; and her three grandchildren, Christopher Kornatz (Ruthie) of Clinton, Justin Barden of Clinton, and Alex Barden of Old Saybrook. She had the wonderful fortune to become a great-grandmother in 2018 to Otto Arthur Kornatz, our little “Oakie.”
Marcia is also survived by her brother and sister Robert Cole-Whiffen (Sally) of East Haven and Laurie McGrath (Robert) of Clinton; and nieces and nephews Patrick Adams (Donna), Sarah Adams (Cyndee), Josh McGrath, and Elizabeth Coon (Neil). She also leaves brother-in-law David Barden, sister-in-law Kay Everding, and nieces and nephews Tim Barden, Cara Everding-Colston, and Kent Everding. She also has several, very loved, grand-nieces and -nephews, and many very dear friends here at home and at magical Queechy lake
She will be in very good company with the wonderful family members and dear friends that have passed before her and she sure did know how to have fun! Time for Nana to renew, pain free and making her impact on the universe once again. If you see a bright star in the sky tonight, that’s our Nana wishing you well. It’s been a life very well lived, indeed.
Due to the year we are experiencing, Marcia’s celebration of life services will be kept private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Clinton Fire Department, 35 E. Main St., Clinton, CT 06413.