Barbara Jean Hazley (nee Nawrocki), daughter of a Polish immigrant and a Union Square baker, who was raised in the Bronx and Jersey City and lived every day of her adult life dedicated to her husband and two sons, died April 17, 2021 after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 82. Resident of Upper Saddle River for 50 years.
Born in Bronx, New York, to Henry and Jean Nawrocki, Barbara grew up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium and later graduated from Dickinson High School in Jersey City and Berkeley College before heading to Manhattan to start a career. It was while working for IBM in the Time-Life Building that she met her husband-to-be of 57 years, George, a Manhattan native and IBM executive. They married in 1964 and nested in Greenwich Village, Riverdale, and eventually, Bergen County, where they raised her adored sons, George Jr., and, later, Gregory. Her daughters-in-law Laurie (Gennarelli) and Annie (Davaris) quickly became the daughters she never had and gave her the gift that rivaled any other during her life.
Barbara’s limitless devotion and love of her children and their spouses was outshined only by the arrival of her four beloved grandchildren – Sean (22), Ryan (19), J.D. (11), and Cassidy (6). In the face of a cancer diagnosis four years ago, she selflessly fretted over her family and savored, more than ever, every holiday, birthday and grandchild milestone – indeed, every unremarkable day – from Sean and Ryan’s journeys through adolescence to adulthood, to J.D.’s sports games, and, most recently, little Cassidy’s first lost tooth. To friends she was “Barb,” and to family she was “Bobbi,” a nickname given to her as a child by her own mother, Jean, and picked up again by her youngest grandchildren.
Barbara loved family vacations, homemaking, Danielle Steele romance novels and Mary Higgins Clarke mysteries, and never rested until her children were cared (and accounted) for at the end of the day. She tolerated and occasionally embraced her husband’s boating phase, delighted in gossiping with her sister, Diana (sometimes in Polish), and in every aspect of her life put her family and friends in her thoughts and worries ahead of her own.
With her children getting older, Barbara took a retail job at a small clothing store, a part-time endeavor that became a 30-year retail career with the Gap, where she became a favorite of customers, a savior to sartorially-challenged men, and a mother hen to employees, including one that would become her daughter-in-law.
Barbara traveled the world with George and her family, visiting the ancient treasures and masterpieces of Europe, tracing her and George’s ancestral roots in Poland and Ireland, and exploring the United States from sea to sea. But she most delighted in adventures closer to home, where dinner with family or friends, or a simple morning coffee on her back porch in spring was just as sweet as a voyage on the QE2 or a pastry lunch at a Copenhagen café.
She is survived by her husband, George, sons George Jr. (Laurie) and Greg (Annie); grandchildren Sean and Ryan (George & Laurie), J.D. and Cassidy (Greg & Annie), sister Diana Barkovich, her nephew Michael Barkovich and niece Barbara Kelly, brother-in-law Jimmy Hazley (Janet), as well as a bevy of lifelong and dear friends with whom she delighted in dining and chatting.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. (stjude.org)
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