A volunteer’s hand with grace and style

What Lucretia Rowe most remembers about Maisie Murphy is her incredible sense of style.

It was 1942 when Lucretia was working in the law firm of Carl Stewart and a new receptionist joined the firm, fresh from school. Like a Dresden doll, Maisie Barkey was 90 pounds of style. “We were earning about $9 a week then,” remembers Lucretia, “but Maisie knew how to put things together. She was very petitite. She had an unblievable complexion. She was kind to people and knew how to take care of them. Carl Stewart said again and again how much it means to an employer when an employee represents a company so well.”

Lucretia and Maisie went on to form a Girl Guide troup at St. Mary’s Church, an activity that went on all during the 40’s.

On Friday morning this week, Maisie’s closest friends gathered at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church to celebrate her life and bid her goodbye as she departed her earthly address. Maisie’s friends go back to her days at Barrie Collegiate in the late 30’s and early 40’s when she was the student pianist for the school orchestra. Levina Tickle was a musician in the orchestra in those days. And she was front and centre to bid farewell to her friend of over 70 years. Wendy Hicks, Ethel Turnbull, Jean McCann… all good friends from school days, from Maisie’s more recent musical efforts with the Parkview Singers, from her tireless volunteer work with St. Mary’s CWL.

Friends from her years with Red Cross Blood Donor Clinics were there, remembering Maisie’s organizational skills, her ability to make people feel welcome, her graciousness with which new donors were put at ease.

It was 1949 when Maisie met Frank Murphy, a widower with a young son Greg. Frank was managing the Sally Shops and longtime Barrie residents will remember when the Sally Shop anchored the main block in Barrie’s downtown. Winking at Robinson’s Hardware across the street, Frank and Sally Shop were synonymous and Maisie fit comfortably into the mix.

They built two homes on Dundonald St in the early days, one for Maisie, Greg and Frank and a second for Maisie’s parents. When the Barkey’s were gone, the Murphys moved to another home on Puget St. In later years, condominium living allowed them to winter in Florida and visit son Greg out west.

When Maisie died last week at age 78, she had suffered some major health issues… two new hips, then and back surgery in Toronto this fall. It was a surprise to her family when her heart was her final failure.

And yet, as Frank and Greg and Maisie’s family of heart and of blood gathered to send Maisie on her way, I know that the one final image most had was the delicate, porcelain figure of Maisie’s youth, the girl who walked into work one day, turning every head as she did.

“A navy dress. Stiff white collar and cuffs. Maisie looked like a little model.”

Friday morning’s images included high school, music, secretarial skills, the ability to put people at ease, Girl Guides, blood donor clinics, countless receptions for weddings and funerals, motherhood. And love.

Thanks, Maisie.