Barbara Ripa, 89, Portsmouth


Barbara Ripa, 89, passed away at home in Portsmouth surrounded by her family on Oct. 10, 2021.

Born Barbara Anne Henry in Newport, R.I. to Katherine (Maher) and Robert Henry, she was the oldest of four. She was the wife of the late Joseph A. Ripa, whom she married in Newport in 1954.

Barbara leaves her six children: Lenore Depot of East Weymouth, Mass.; Barbara Ripa, Laurie Ripa, and Elizabeth Brett (Bob) of Portsmouth; Alex Ripa (Jill) of Barrington, R.I., and Jennifer Ripa of Groton, Conn.; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, whom she adored. She also leaves her sister, Roberta Dugan, of Newport. Barbara was predeceased by her sister Sharon Caine, brother Robert Henry, and granddaughter Ari Brett.

After graduating from Rogers High School in 1949, Barbara received a bachelor’s degree in arts, cum laude, from URI in 1953. Barbara was a schoolteacher before raising her family, and returned as a special needs aide, first at Elmhurst, then Melville School.

She loved nature — often raising monarch butterflies, she’d bring larvae to school to teach their life cycle. A frequent sight at home were monarch chrysalises around the windows!

Barbara loved reading, PBS shows, her cats, swimming at the Boys & Girls Clubs with friends, and the artistry of Studio Ghibli, which she shared with her children, grands and great-grands. Barbara’s hand-knitted Christmas stockings are treasured keepsakes for so many. She was kind, forgiving, generous of heart, good-natured and patient. Barbara was much loved and will be deeply missed.

Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Portsmouth Free Public Library, 2658 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871 or by visiting

A celebration of Barbara’s wonderful life will be held in her honor in the future.

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