Barbara Thrall Hambach passed away peacefully at Eagle Pointe Assisted Living at The Suffield House, in Suffield CT, surrounded by her family. Barbara was born in 1921 at home in Vernon, CT to Wallace and Lillian Thrall. After graduation from Rockville High School, she married Francis J. Hambach in 1942 and had three daughters, Janice, Nancy and Roberta. She was always industrious. During her younger years, she worked extremely hard on their farm in Ellington CT. In 1955, at the age of 34, Barbara simultaneously cared for her new born baby (Roberta) and five elderly relatives within the Hambach family homestead in Melrose CT.
Barbara was an extremely creative person and her ingenuity knew no bounds which is reflected in the many passions she had in life. She loved to bake and create original recipes. She was well known for her delicious cakes. Right up to 95, she faithfully baked birthday cakes for her friends and relatives, and delivered them to boot. She had an uncanny ability to write verses and poetry in no time flat. It was a lifetime dream to publish a book. So at the age 86 she did just that. She published “Great Gramma’s Worthy Words.” The beautiful apple blossom cover art was her very own painting. It was so appropriate, as her nickname was Apple Blossom. She did sell some books, but her greatest pleasure came from just giving them away.She enjoyed planning and having festive family celebrations and reunions big and small. She also loved good pranks both at the getting and giving end. Barbara was a passionate fan of Uconn women’s basketball. She loved “digging” for old bottles and metal detecting. She had hundreds of finds over the years. Digging for precious and semi-precious stones were also special interests for her. She dug for sapphires in MT, emeralds in NC, diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in AR, and Herkimer diamonds in NY. She was passionate about crafting bead necklaces. Her creations were amazing and drew compliments galore. She made them for relatives, friends and strangers. One would just need to admire a string and she would readily ask what their favorite color was and, if they provided an address, magically she would produce a strand for them.
It seemed Barbara was very lucky person. She loved entering contests and won quite a few. One year she won a one-week vacation at the beach, including the gas money to get there and all the groceries for the adventure. Another time, not knowing much about football, she entered a radio football contest, picking the two teams that would make it to the championship. That win included two round trip tickets to California.
Barbara loved vacationing at Moosehead Lake in Maine, particularly during the July 4th holiday. Her special love for that holiday centered on sparking people’s interest in patriotism. For many years, she combined those two loves by creating extraordinary, block long “stationary floats” at the Greenville ME Fourth of July celebrations. Her patriotism was also reflected in the great respect she had for her heritage, being a proud member of both the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR -Abigail Walcott’s Ellsworth Chapter) and the Mayflower Society.
At 93, Barbara’s right hip collapsed. After hip replacement, she was the rock star of her rehab facility. Her true grit pushed her through the pain of the rehab process. People half her age told her she was their inspiration to push through their own rehabilitation. Barbara fully recovered. She resumed normal activities. She was driving again, going up and down stairs every day, climbing in and out of her old fashioned claw foot tub every single morning, and making occasional trips to the CT casinos. She even managed to squeeze in another trip to Las Vegas!
On Oct. 18, 2016, at the age of 95, she had a catastrophic fall down her stairs. She had a severe traumatic brain injury on the left side of her head. She miraculously survived and after a short stay in rehab, she was brought home. The Vernon Visiting Nurses provided rehabilitation in her home. Again, her determination was phenomenal. She worked her heart out to get stronger and more ambulatory, amazing the therapists. With a walker, she was once again somewhat mobile. Then in late February 2017, Barbara was re-hospitalized. Unfortunately, her condition did not allow her to return to her home. At that time she moved into Eagle Pointe. When she arrived at Eagle Pointe, she told lots of people that she had lived 95 good years. This past April, she made it to 97. During the last few months of her life, she often said, that looking back, she had enjoyed a very good life filled with many wonderful experiences. Barbara was a strong woman who was admired for being clever, witty and wise throughout her life. She was a pillar of strength and fortitude. She will be truly missed by the many who loved and cherished her, and all those she so willingly helped along the way. Barbara was predeceased by her husband Francis J Hambach, her brothers Wallace Thrall, Charles Thrall and William Thrall. Barbara is survived by her daughters Janice Anne Adams (Floyd) of Burnt Hills NY, Nancy Hambach Holzer (James) of Groton MA, and Roberta Hambach of Derry NH; sisters Marjorie Lotas of Talcottville CT, Marion Stearns of Scotland, CT; her grandchildren Jamie Holzer of Groton MA, Lisa Tohline (Chris) of Billerica MA, Robin Holzer of Fort Walton Beach FL; a great grandson Logan Tohline; her faithful companion of 28 years Edmund Draus of Vernon CT; and too many wonderful nieces and nephews and cousins to list. Relatives and friends may join the family on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 from 5 – 7 pm at the Bassinger & Dowd Funeral Home, 37 Gardner st, East Windsor, CT 06088. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at 11:00 am at St. Catherine Church, Broad Brook, CT 06016. Burial will follow at St. Catherine Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Monastery of Our Lady of Grace 11 Race Hill Rd, Guilford, CT 06437 or The Melrose School Preservation Committee c/o Ellen Hubbard, 235 Melrose Rd, Broad Brook, CT 06016. For online condolences please visit www.pietrasfuneralhome.com