Barbara MacFarlane was a strong and loving woman who devoted her life to caring for others. She volunteered for the American Legion Auxiliary, read to people who were homebound and brought food baskets to people in need.

But the Litchfield resident also believed conspiracy theorists who claim that COVID-19 is a hoax and that government officials are using the vaccine to track people. Her daughter, Victoria Veilleux, said she tried repeatedly to convince her mother otherwise but couldn’t persuade her to get vaccinated.

Barbara MacFarlane Photo courtesy of the family

MacFarlane tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta on Thanksgiving. She died there on Dec. 1. She was 85.

“COVID is real,” Veilleux said on Wednesday. “Get vaccinated. Do it, not just for yourself, but for the people who love you.”

MacFarlane is one of 1,357 Mainers who have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Veilleux said she met her mother for lunch on Nov. 4 and told her of the growing number of unvaccinated people in Maine hospitals. She pleaded with her one last time to get vaccinated, to no avail.

MacFarlane was remembered by her family this week as a strong and loving woman, who devoted her life to caring for others. Veilleux said she wrote her mother’s eulogy for her funeral service on Thursday. In it, Veilleux noted her mother’s devotion to family and friends. She supported veterans causes and volunteered for the American Legion Auxiliary for several years. Her daughter said she read to people who were homebound and brought food baskets to people in need.

“She cared about everyone,” her daughter said. “When I was a teenager, she took in kids that had problems at home. She took care of my grandmother for 15 years before she died. My dad passed away seven years ago from Parkinson’s disease and my mother kept him home and took care of him. She was a caretaker. She always wanted to do things for people.”

Veilleux said her mother got one of the two last remaining beds in the 36-bed COVID-19 unit at MaineGeneral. She said hospital officials told her that, including her mother, 34 of the 35 COVID patients in the unit were unvaccinated.

“We have seen that the majority of people who are coming in that have COVID are unvaccinated,” said Joy McKenna, director of marketing and communications at MaineGeneral. “That’s why we’ve been asking people to get vaccinated and to wear a mask in public. … The public health measures we know help reduce the transmission of COVID.”

Barbara and Larry MacFarlane were married for 60 years. Photo courtesy of the family

MacFarlane graduated from Gardiner High School in 1953. The following year, she married Larry MacFarlane and became a military wife. Larry MacFarlane was in the Marine Corps and she joined him during his service at Parris Island, South Carolina; San Diego; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Long Island, New York; and Argentia, Newfoundland.

A devoted mother of three children, she was a leader in the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Veilleux reflected on their early years, recalling how her mother made the holidays feel special. She said her mother would save egg cartons for them to make Christmas ornaments.

“She always hung those stupid ornaments on the Christmas tree,” her daughter said. “She was a good mom. She did things with us when we were kids. She could be tough. She kept us straight on the path. She taught us morals and respect, and right versus wrong.”

MacFarlane was an active member of the Litchfield Plains Baptist Church. Her daughter said she attended church every Sunday and sat in the third row on the right side. She said her mother always envisioned a funeral service in her church, but due to COVID-19, the funeral could not be held there. Instead, it was held at a funeral home Thursday afternoon.

“We’re lucky that we are able to have a funeral at all,” her daughter said Wednesday. “The minister agreed to come to the funeral home, so at least she has her minister.”

In her later years, MacFarlane worked as the head bookkeeper at the Augusta School Department, retiring in 1986.

She had a passion for gardening and regularly entered her flowers and vegetables at the annual Litchfield Fair. She loved to cook, play the piano, swim and go boating on Pleasant Pond.

MacFarlane and her husband were married for 60 years and held hands wherever they went. They shared a passion for traveling and enjoyed trips to Scotland and Moncton, New Brunswick, where they worked on family genealogies.

“They loved to explore new places,” Veilleux wrote in her eulogy. “She always kept a journal and wrote about her experiences. They went to Mexico, where they made their first attempt at snorkeling in their late 60s and rode horses horse-backed in the Sierra Madres. They went to the Italy, where I remember my mom flirting with a very handsome Italian driver that we had hired to take us to Pompei and the hills of Sorrento. They traveled by train to Germany and Austria and explored the Alps, where they drank hot mulled wine. They went to Napa Valley and explored the vineyards. …”

MacFarlane was with family when she died on Dec. 1.

Veilleux shared details of her mother’s hospital stay and how quickly COVID-19 ravaged her. On the day she died, doctors found blood clots in her lungs and legs. Veilleux said doctors were unsure if she would survive a surgery, so she made the difficult decision to put her mother on comfort measures.

“We sang to her. We prayed with her,” her daughter said. “It’s a horrible, horrible thing to have to go through.”

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