March 19, 2013

Feature obituary: Barbara Sawyer, 72, 'Nurse Barb' at Maine Med

By Melanie Creamer
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH — Barbara Sawyer, a dedicated certified nursing assistant at Maine Medical Center, who greeted thousands of babies and helped new mothers after delivery, died Monday at her home on her 72nd birthday.

Barbara Sawyer

Family photo


Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways

Mrs. Sawyer worked on the maternity ward at Maine Medical Center for more than 30 years. Known by many as “Nurse Barb,” she worked in the nursery taking care of new babies after delivery.

“She loved taking care of babies,” said her son, David “Mark” Sawyer, of Arnold, Md. “It was said by many, if there was a colicky baby, give it to Barbara. She could put the baby to sleep. She was magical that way.”

Doris Ames, a nursing unit secretary at MMC, said she fed and rocked babies in the nursery and helped new mothers after birth.

“She was a role model for other CNAs,” Ames said. “She loved her job and loved sharing her knowledge.… She was a caring and loving person. She loved the babies, she loved them all.”

Mrs. Sawyer grew up in the Pine Point area in Scarborough and worked in the family business, Bayley’s Lobster Pound. In 1958, she married David Sawyer and settled on Sawyer Road, where she raised five children. Their marriage lasted about 12 years.

She was a single mother who worked hard to give her kids a good life. Her son remembered many trips to the food bank at town hall.

“I remember the word government cheese,” he said. “We had these huge blocks of American cheese. We were never ever hungry. She did what she had to do to put food on the table.”

Mrs. Sawyer was well-liked in the neighborhood. Her son said she was a second mother to many of their friends.

“Our home was always open. We had loads of friends who loved to come over,” he said. “She was always loving … always there if you had a problem.”

By 5 p.m. Monday, more than 100 people had commented on Mrs. Sawyer’s passing on her Facebook timeline. Some friends also wished her happy birthday.

“May you rest (in) peace beautiful lady,” wrote Nancy Libbey.

“I heard about Gram before I met her,” wrote Sarah Pooler Cordiner. “I knew she had a big heart before I felt it. I was always in awe as I watched it at work.… Always putting family first and giving to those in need. Barbara Sawyer was a beautiful and loving woman. I feel very lucky to have known her.”

Pat Leddy, of Pine Point Road in Scarborough, broke down in tears Monday reminiscing about their lifelong friendship. Leddy said they did everything together. “She was very kind. She was wonderful.… She was like a sister to me,” Leddy said.

About six months ago, Mrs. Sawyer fulfilled her longtime dream of moving into a new house, complete with a dishwasher. She died early Monday from end stage liver disease, surrounded by her five children and her sister.

“She wasn’t alone for a minute for the past five days of her life,” her son said. “She was at home with us and that was a wonderful thing. I can’t tell you what a comfort that is.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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