Barbara Lacombe Grant, who blazed a trail of friendships throughout her long life, died on Nov. 19, 2020 at Rosewood Manor in Harwich. Her death at 92 was caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Born to Hedwig and George Lacombe in Maplewood, N.J., Barbara’s childhood was shaped by the stock market crash, the Great Depression, World War II, and the untimely death of her father when she was 11 years old.
She inherited her mother’s strong matriarchal work ethic, which bore their family through tough times. Years later, she inspired her neighbor and friend, Jane Shields, with her entrepreneurial skills, as she ran her antiques shop, B. Grant’s Antiques and Books, from her home on Route 6A in Brewster.
“She was a political animal in the best sense of the word,” said Jane. “What she really enjoyed, being the social person that she was, was sitting there and greeting folks. I always thought of her as the mayor of Main Street. Right through 90 years old, she managed the store.”
Barbara graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood (where she was voted “best dressed”) and went on to Duke University. Her love of politics led her to major in political science, and she joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
After college, she graduated from the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School and moved to Greenwich Village, where she worked for Minute Rice, M&Ms, and Modern Bride magazine, a job that included giving artist Andy Warhol his paychecks for “doodles” he made for the publication.
When her dream job materialized, she left New York in her convertible and drove to Washington, D.C., to become secretary to New Jersey Congressman Robert Winthrop Kean.
Barbara had access to political events in the capital, including sitting in on the Army-McCarthy hearings, seeing Queen Elizabeth II, and riding in an elevator with John F. Kennedy. She swore that Sir Winston Churchill looked her right in the eye and flashed her the “V for Victory” as he passed by in a parade.
Barbara’s trajectory in D.C. was cut short when she married Peter Osgood Grant and moved to Chatham, N.J. to raise two daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth. During those years, Barbara kept her heart in politics, working for the Republican Party as county leader. One time, upon returning home from shaking hands with President Richard Nixon, she announced she’d never wash her hand again. After the Watergate scandal, however, she registered as an independent and ultimately voted blue.
Barbara had an enduring passion for unique and historic objects. In the late 1960s, she opened the first B. Grant’s Antiques and Books in Chatham, N.J.
The family spent summers in East Orleans, where Sarah and Liz remember hunting for treasures for Barbara to sell at the Incredible Barn, which was owned by her friends the Smiths. She also sold antiques at the Wellfleet Flea Market and Peacock Alley in Orleans.
In 1980, the family moved to Brewster and Barbara opened her second shop, filling it with her beloved treasures.
In a support group for divorcees, Barbara met the love of her life, good-natured Ted Dailey, the father of 10 children. They traveled the world on a budget. Lovers of music, the arts, great books, and culture, they shared 20 years of adventure until Ted’s death in 2009.
Barbara cherished many lifelong friends, including her Brewster neighbors Jane and Tom Shields, and her “exercise ladies,” Dot, Dottie, and Kay. Among her greatest joys were her granddaughters, Nicole Horvath and the late Gracie Horvath, with whom she and Ted shared many after-school library adventures and ice cream.
Barbara spent a magical last chapter in her daughter Liz’s home in Wellfleet, holding court with friends and dogs, and surrounded by gardens bursting with flowers as vibrant as she was.
At the end of her life, she moved to Rosewood Manor, where, in spite of fine care, she suffered from the isolation required by the pandemic.
Barbara’s family is grateful to Katherine Hazzard and April Hayman, as well as the staff and nurses at Rosewood. Barbara is an unforgettable presence in the hearts of all who knew her.