Ira Babb, one of five women to be inducted into the Barbados Police Force in 1950 took her final march today.
The 89-year-old’s name was actually the first to be called for admission.
“After a few years in the Barbados Police Force, as it was known at that time, longing for more autonomy, Ira left and went to work at the Ministry of Transport and Works as it was known then. She eventually returned to the education ministry and worked there in an administrative capacity until she retired from the Civil Service,” said Dr Astra Babb, who read the eulogy at Babb’s funeral service, held at The Cathedral Church of St Michael’s and All Angels St Michael Row, The City, this morning.
In 2000 when the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) celebrated its 150th anniversary, Babb received an appreciation plaque from the force.
Today several female members of the force attended the service to pay their last respects.
Dr Babb said the deceased, the second of eight children, was thrown into the role of matriarch, which she accepted and took very seriously, following the death of her mother in 1991.
She became confidante, banker and counselor for her siblings.
“Ira had an infectious laugh. When she started to laugh, no matter how annoyed we were, we could not stay mad, but would also collapse in laughter. Her favourite words were, ‘wuh you worrying bout now? Things will work out. Life is too short to be miserable.” However, she never hesitated to speak her mind although she always practiced linguistic competence.
“She could put you in your place while smiling broadly. Indeed, her skillful manipulation of the English Language made it difficult for one to be angry with her until long after the conversation had ended and comprehension set in,” she said.
Babb was never married, nor did she give birth to any children, however, she mothered many. She cared for her nephew Andrew after his mother went to seek a better life in Canada and she did so until he joined his mother overseas.
Her faith was severely tested when her sister Joyce died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), after giving birth to her third child, Neal. Babb quickly filled the void and became a surrogate mother for not just the baby, but for Gay and Joy-Anne, Joyce’s other two children.
“However, it was for baby Neal that she was most concerned, since he would be deprived of his mother’s milk and care. To make matters even more troubling, Joyce’s husband Arthur, appeared to find it extremely difficult to accept the death of his dear wife, whom doctors determined had expired as a consequence of childbirth-related complications, hours after giving birth.
“Following Joyce’s funeral, Ira was galvanised into action once more. She sought and received permission from the children’s father, went to the hospital and had Neal discharged into her care. Thereafter, Ira became Neal’s mother and she loved him more than she loved her own life,” Dr Babb said.
“Ironically, it was Neal and Barbara (Neal’s wife) who were Ira’s caretakers in the evening of her life. They looked after her well, and even when I suggested that the family bring someone in to assist with Ira to relieve the strain on them, Ira told me, “Astra, I want Neal to look after me. I don’t want anybody else.”
Babb was an active member of the Cathedral.
Delivering the sermon, The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey Gibson, said that Babb served as a dedicated member of the Mothers’ Union and led the Women’s Auxiliary at the Church for many years. She attended the Church until ten years ago when she became incapacitated.
Babb died on June 10 after an illness. She was buried at Westbury Cemetery. [email protected]