Elaine "Lanie" Virginia Hector Barker, 87, went to her rightful Glory on Thursday, April 16, 2020, succumbing to the COVID-19 virus after contracting it at Chelsea's Eastpointe Physical Rehabilitation Center and being treated briefly at Everett Hospital.
Lanie was born in Boston on July 26, 1932, the first daughter of Harold Raphael Hector, Sr. and Matilda Rachel Robinson Hector. She grew up in Roxbury, becoming pre-school best friends with Dorothy Bridgeforth Binns and her sister Nonnie on Savin Street before beginning her education at the Phillip Brooks School. From there she went to the Patrick T. Campbell Jr. High School and Roxbury Memorial High School, where she was elected senior class secretary and graduated in 1949. She attended Boston City Hospital Nursing School and was employed as a nurse's aide at Massachusetts General Hospital where she met one of her best friends, Natalie Daniels, a nursing student at the hospital.
From there, she joined the staff as a secretary at the Boston Fire Department Roxbury office on Massachusetts Avenue and then for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring after more than 25 years.
She married the now-deceased Korean War Veteran Lawrence "Larry" Barker of Revere on August 6, 1955. To them, two daughters were born: Gayle Marie and Denise Ann. The family moved from Dorchester to Stoughton in 1965. After almost 50 years of marriage, Larry went to his Glory while at home in 2003 due to a heart attack.
As a young woman, Lanie loved to bowl every Saturday with her mother and sisters, Barbara and Beverly, as members of the Colored Women's Bowling League in the 1950s and '60s. Not one to miss a good time, she and three generations of family members would attend cabarets and other festive events sponsored by civic and social clubs. More recently she joined the fashionably attired Stoughton Chapter of the Red Hat Society. She searched high and low for the best red hat so that she would never be outdone by other members.
All her life, Lanie loved to travel. She visited Hong Kong with her sister Barbara, and Brazil to visit her brother "Sonny," an award-winning community theater actor and a football coach at the American University in Rio; Kenya and Tanzania after a job transfer of Mr. Barker's cousins from Montreal; and relaxing trips to Montego Bay, Jamaica and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. In keeping with family tradition, her favorite of all vacation spots was the annual August trips to Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, where she slowly browsed through boutiques for unique jewelry and resort fashions, stopping at art galleries and for ice cream on Circuit Avenue, and sunbathing and swimming at Inkwell Beach, often with generations of family members.
If you wanted to start an argument with Lanie—and never win—just remark that Frank Sinatra was not the best singer. He'd never lose that status with her. And when it came to jazz pianists, Dave Brubeck was the man!
Gardening was her favorite hobby. This time of year she would be tending her plants and vegetable garden, coaxing the shoots into healthy, mature blooms. Patiently she awaited the fruit of her labor and was never hesitant to show them off without being braggadocious.
She loved her family, and one way she showed them was through her culinary skills. She loved to cook and whipped up her scrumptious dishes using the best, fresh herbs and produce straight from her garden, giving each one that unmistakable "Lanie" touch! On summer Saturdays, it was not unusual to see cars of family members and friends lined up on her street and driveway. No one would ever miss her famous summertime backyard cookouts chock full of goodies.
From the street, you could smell what was sizzling on the grill. There were so many delectable choices on the two long tables that there was nowhere to set another plate. Your lap would have to do and hold onto that heavy double plate laden with food because you got a little bit of everything.
In addition to being an avid gardener, she was a lover of arts and crafts, gifting family members and friends with treasured ceramic fruit bowls, flower pots, garden ornaments and stone artwork. All around her home were the novels of her favorite authors—most prominently Toni Morrison.
Professional sports had no greater fan than Lanie. The Boston Celtics, the Red Sox, and the New England Patriots were her favorites, enthusiastically cheering them on in good and not-so-good seasons. But amateur sports didn't escape her admiration. Accompanying her father and her siblings, off to Manhattan she went every year to the Millrose Games, enjoying the competition's excitement. But Lanie did not ignore hometown track and field favorites. She went to the Boston Garden and other area field houses to watch local teams compete, some of whom her dad coached in earlier years at the Carter Playground on Columbus Avenue.
Many years later, her eldest grandson became a track and field student athlete at U-Conn. Ever the proud grandmother, she never missed a meet and compiled newspaper reports of all of his competitions in a hefty scrapbook.
The first born in a line of eleven generations born in Massachusetts, Lanie was preceded in death by her parents, her husband and only brother, Harold "Sonny" Raphael Hector, Jr. She leaves to celebrate her life her daughters Gayle (Stanley) Barker-Earle of Stoughton, Mass., and Denise (Rodney) Parham, of Revere, Mass.; sisters Barbara Loatman of Hyde Park, Mass.; Beverly (John Kirk) Hector-Smith of Natick, Mass.; Carol (William) Hector-Harris of Columbus, Ohio; Margaret (Willie) Brown of Providence, R.I.; Diane Whitfield of Boston, Mass.; brothers Francis (Mary) Reid of Greensboro, N.C.; Lawrence Whitfield of Fiskdale, Mass.; James (Emma) Gums of St. John's, Ariz.; grandsons Sean (Jennifer) Earle of Easton, Mass., and Justin Heggie of Lowell, Mass.; great-grandchildren Hailey, Aaron and Jessica Earle; niece Stephanie Daniel of Philadelphia, Penn.; nephews Jan Harris and Sharif (Charde) Harris of Columbus, Oh; special cousins Doris (Jay) Clark of Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and David (Myranette) Robinson of Phoenix, Ariz.; great-nieces and great-nephews; other family members; and friends.
With a keen eye toward the less fortunate and great missions, Lanie supported many with donations to numerous civic and social organizations, charities and causes.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in her name to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., at nmaahc.si.edu/connect/give, and to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at mspca.org.