Barbara Keisling, of Tiverton, RI, formerly of Newport and Pawtucket, RI passed away on April 21, 2023. She had been battling a yearlong series of medical care and hospitalizations due to injuries that were the result of an automobile accident, and very recent complications of cancer. She had been tended to at home with great care by the wonderful staff of the Visiting Nurse Home & Hospice and HopeHealth Hospice – but ultimately required in house care at the HopeHealth Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence.
Barbara was born in Central Falls, RI on November 21, 1934, to Leo Mandeville and Louise (Juliette) Turcotte Mandeville. She was the eldest daughter of three girls. The family moved and settled into a small house in Buttonwoods beach area, (in the Apponaug section) of Warwick. She didn’t have many clothes, but her mother made her favorite dresses and hats that she wore to large family gatherings around the holidays. Her father was the eldest of seven children and he worked as a steeple jack over the years doing copper work on many of the notable church steeples and mill building chimneys in and around Rhode Island.
Some may know Barbara from her early Pawtucket years where she married Earl and raised 5 children with her devoted and beloved husband of nearly 40 years. During those years she was a devoted wife, mother, and homemaker who doted over her 5 children. Her 4 daughters (Earls’ birds) could always be counted on to walk into Easter Sunday Mass at St. Maria Goretti with mom’s beautiful hand-made dresses on, along with Easter purses, gloves, bonnets, and fancy shoes. Her attention to detail was always spot on.
Christmas Eve at the Keisling household was always a huge affair for friends, family, and neighbors alike for many years. She toiled for days leading up to the holiday, preparing a feast for many. Our summer weekends, and vacations were always spent boating with our “summer friends” on Narragansett Bay, and Martha’s Vineyard. She loved the live shows at the “Tent” which she attended for many years with the best friend couples that her and dad had for many years. The names of friends are too numerous to mention but remain none the less beloved friends of the couple.
Barbara was unable to finish high school as a teenager. She left high school early, in order to work to earn money to pitch in and help her family during difficult times. She decided in her late 40’s, (after raising her children), to return to school, to gain a college education. She earned a degree in Sociology from CCRI and went on to become a practicing social worker. She especially loved her job working with and advocating for the elderly at the North End’s Davinci Center. She credited John Deluca, the centers founder and president, with giving her the opportunity of a lifetime, to do the work that she loved.
Barbara’s career and much of her life was significantly altered when her husband Earl was suddenly stricken with terminal cancer and died shortly thereafter. She was forced to adjust to the terrible circumstance which had upturned her life. But she rarely complained, and always had an upbeat and positive attitude. She immersed herself in her friendships, and in her children and grand children’s lives. She also learned to become a very independent woman.
She decided to sell their recently built country dream home in Rehoboth, and move to Newport, where she moved in on Spring St, and began to trade in antique textiles, fine fabrics, trim, and lace. She sold much of her wares at Jessie James Antiques in Bristol where she became lifelong friends with Jim and Jessie. She opened Queen Anne’s Lace shop shortly thereafter. She was a fixture at the annual Brimfield Antique and flea market for many years, along with her beloved niece, Christine. She sold her wares to many designers and merchants from New York City.
Barbara spent the last several years of her life with her companion, Steven Caroulo. The two lived and travelled together for many years. Steven took care of her until the end of her life, and for that the family is grateful for. The family would like to pay special thanks to the many who reached out or visited mom, especially Mary Pepin who provided exceptional love, guidance, and care for her final weeks.
She was preceded in death by her late husband Earl Keisling, daughter Karen Newberg, her parents, Leo Mandeville and Louise Turcotte Mandeville, and sister Patricia Eaton.
Barbara is survived by her children, Debra Isabella, Lisa Gosetti, Lori Rosa, Earl Keisling and daughter in-law Beth, and son in law Larry Newberg. Her 10 grand children: Michael, Mark and Kristen Newberg, Nicholas and Francesca Isabella, Justin Rosa, Jordan, and Alexandria Gosetti (Kelly), Jacqueline and Alana Keisling and 10 great-grandchildren who she adored. She is also survived by her sister Jacqueline Moran.
Visiting hours will be held Wednesday, April 26 from 4:00pm–8:00pm in the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring St, Newport. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to HopeHealth Hulitar Hospice Center, 1085 N. Main St, Providence, RI 02904.