Irene B. Barnes

Irene B. Barnes, 90, a longtime resident of Swanzey, passed away with her family at her side on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.

Her parents, Francis E. and Annette (Villiard) Brosseau, welcomed their daughter into the world on March 12, 1931, in Milton, Mass. Irene moved with her family from Woonsocket, R.I., to Keene at the age of seven, where she attended St. Joseph Regional School and was a 1949 graduate of Keene High School.

For many years, Irene made custom draperies and worked as an interior designer at the former Bowler Jones and Page in Keene. In 1982, she started her own business with her daughter, Pam, called “Growing Designs.” For 15 years, Irene did interior design and installation with Jim by her side, while Pam did interior and exterior landscape design.

Irene had a beautiful singing voice and a big love of music. She was a member of the choir at St. Anthony’s Church in West Swanzey and at St. Bernard’s Church in Keene. She was a longtime member of the Keene Pops Choir and the Keene Singers. Irene was also a talented painter, studying art for 20 years with Sidney Willis at the Sharon Arts Center. Her oil paintings were displayed at many businesses and private homes in the area. Irene was a past president and longtime member of the Keene Art Association, and was a member of Beta Sigma Phi women’s sorority. For many years, Irene was the scenic designer for the Keene Lions Club’s annual musical productions. While she took great pride in that work, she also loved to be on the stage singing and dancing! She also enjoyed gardening, was a great seamstress and a wonderful cook. But more than anything, Irene was a gracious hostess — she and Jim always welcomed large gatherings with family and friends at their beloved mountain view home, bringing her great joy and providing many everlasting memories for all.

Irene is survived by her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly 71 years, James H. “Jim” Barnes, whom she married April 28, 1951; her children: Pamela Barnes White and her husband, Kevin, of Haverhill, Mass., Kathy Barnes of Swanzey; and Lisa Barnes Marr and her husband, Denny, of Keene; two grandsons: Erik R. Marr of Keene; and Patrick J. Marr and his wife, Jackie, of Dublin; her sister-in-law, who was more like a sister to Irene, Sally (Brosseau) LaBarre, of Swanzey; and several nieces, nephews and extended family members. A brother, Robert M. Brosseau, predeceased Irene.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at 1 p.m. in St. Bernard Church, 185 Main St., Keene. Family and friends are welcome to attend and are required to wear facemasks and to maintain the physical distancing protocols, thank you. Interment will be at a future date in the Mountain View Cemetery in Swanzey. For those who wish, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Irene’s memory to a charity of one’s choice.

The Foley Funeral Home of Keene has been entrusted with the arrangements. To offer online condolences to the family or to share special memories, please visit