In memoriam: Barbara Thompson dies aged 91

Barbara Thompson had a certain elegance about her.

When she walked into a room — whether it was for a Kearny Council meeting, or at a fundraiser or anything else for that matter — it was as though royalty were nearby. In a way, she was the QE2 of Kearny.

Thompson, who spent many years on the Kearny Council as a representative of the town’s Third Ward and who also spent time as the council’s president, died Sept. 21, 2020.

She was 91.

Though Thompson was a lifelong Republican, her loss was felt by those of all political persuasions.

Kenneth H. Lindenfelser was Kearny’s penultimate GOP mayor in 1993 and 1994 and whilst he led the town, Thompson was on the council. He took time last week to reflect on that life that was Thompson’s from his home down the Jersey Shore.

“Barbara was intelligent, personable and strong minded, yet always respectful,” Lindenfelser, who also spent time as the chairman of the Kearny Republican party, said. “It was my pleasure to have served with her for many years. She was singularly concerned with the wellbeing of every Kearny citizen. She was an outstanding woman who served our town with dignity and compassion.”

Current Third Ward Councilwoman and Council President Carol Jean Doyle now occupies the very seat in which Thompson sat during her years as an elected official. Back in 1995, Doyle ran for the Kearny mayoralty as a Democrat against then-Mayor Leo R. Vartan, the last Republican ever to sit in the mayor’s seat.

Though Doyle’s run fell painfully short (it was a very close election), she was able to bring together people from both political parties to support her upstart candidacy.

Her principal supporter?

Stalwart Republican Barbara Thompson.

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of Barbara Thompson,” Doyle said. “She was a friend, even though we were from different political parties. We were in tandem when it came to serving the people of the Third Ward. Barbara was a mentor to me over the years and knew when to share her thoughts long after she left office.

“I will remember her laugh and laugh we did. Friends can easily put aside political differences when you genuinely like and respect someone and we shared that mutual respect. My sympathies go out to her family.”

The Observer’s co-owner Lisa Feorenzo knew Thompson from their time spent together as members of the Salvation Army of Greater Kearny’s Advisory Board.

“Whenever I’d see Barbara after we were no longer on the board, she would always take time to say hello,” Feorenzo said. “She was such a wonderful woman. All she ever wanted to do was help people. And in my mind, that’s exactly what she did so well. She gave so much of her life to make this a better community. Our town is so much better to this very day because of Barbara. She will be missed.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.