Alberta Grigas Barbash, 90, of North Haven, Conn., passed away Friday, July 23, at Connecticut Hospice. She was born in New Haven on Dec. 15, 1919, to Castus and Elizabeth Grigas, who emigrated from Lithuania in 1910.
Growing up in New Haven, she graduated from Hillhouse High School with honors. As a war bride, she worked on the Manhattan Project in Missouri where her husband George was training. Upon returning to New Haven, she began a 37-year career with Southern New England Telephone Co., advancing from switchboard operator to district office manager. In 1967 Alberta changed the dress code at SNET when she and one of her co-workers presented themselves to their manager wearing then popular pantsuits.
Entering politics in 1954, she eventually became treasurer of the Connecticut Democratic Party, served as a convention delegate in Chicago, 1968, and Miami, 1972, and was invited to the inaugurations of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter.
Alberta fell in love with Martha’s Vineyard in 1964 when she came to visit her daughter, Vasha Brunelle. In 1980, when Frank and Vasha moved here permanently, she and George became yearly Thanksgiving visitors, frequently coming at other times as well. She was here for hurricane Bob, where, at a hurricane party at the Brunelles, she befriended the late Woody Sayre.
Her grandson, Lucas Brunelle, benefited greatly from her strong support of his cycling and film-making career.In addition, Alberta was an active golfer and bowler, even at 89, and was involved in helping out at least one or two nonprofits at any given time, including the March of Dimes, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, Special Olympics, the Red Cross, Cancer Crusade, the United Fund, and her church.
She is survived by Vasha Brunelle of Vineyard Haven, George Barbash Jr. of E. Wallingford, Vt. (formerly of Vineyard Haven), Joanne Siebert and Noel Barbash, both of Denver, Colo., and grandchildren Lucas, Michael, Max, and Rachel.
Memorial contributions may be sent to either Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, 02557 MA or to Mass. Audubon at Felix Neck, P.O. Box 494, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.