Barbara “LuLu” Houtman, a devoted mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and child of God who dedicated her life to her children, grandchildren, and her beloved pets, whom she would affectionately refer to as her granddogs, died on May 1, 2015, in Jonesboro, Ga. She was 91.
Barbara was was born on June 10, 1923, in Boston, to Robert Ellsworth Hobson and Axie Hattie Francis Howcott. The youngest of three girls (Lola Hobson and Marguerite Hobson), Barbara was a destined trailblazer and dynamic dancer. She was a proud mother of two beautiful sons, Roger Matthews Jr. (1942-2010) and Robert Houtman (1947-2013).
Barbara began her career in 1965 as the director of medical records at Massachusetts General Hospital, and later moved on to work at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, where she was an integral part to their team. She loved sharing memories of the wonderful times she and her family enjoyed on Martha’s Vineyard, where they summered.
Following her retirement, Barbara decided to make the Vineyard her permanent residence but, while moving seemed to be a natural fit, “retirement” proved to be an unsurprising challenge for her. In 1994, she was elected to serve as one of the five members of the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen. Breaking ground, and serving two terms, Barbara became the first African American to be elected to serve as the chairman of the board of selectmen. The Boston Globe referred to her as “the first lady of Oak Bluffs.” Her time on the Vineyard was also spent caring for her grandchildren and building meaningful and long-lasting friendships.
At the age of 75, she moved back to the mainland, to Yarmouthport, Cape Cod, and, with the help of her late eldest son Roger, channeled her energy into becoming the family’s historian. Barbara and Roger spent a great deal of time researching, recording, and creating an extensive genealogy chart for her family. She also spent the latter part of her life in San Francisco, Calif., with her late son Robert, then in Georgia with her granddaughter Lynda.
She is survived by her stepson Raymond Houtman; daughter-in-laws Dominique Matthews and Carol Houtman; grandchildren Lynda Matthews Coy, Roger “Butch” Matthews III, Christopher Matthews, Ayisha Houtman, David Matthews, and Michael Matthews; great-grandchildren Devin, Autumn, Jovan, Matt, Taylor, Christopher, and Kiara; great-great-grandchildren Nevaeh, Olivia, Adian, and Amina; dearest family friend Vivian Male; as well as a host of beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
She will always be revered as our family historian, graceful silver swan, and beloved LuLu.
A memorial service is scheduled Saturday, June 6, at 4 pm at Grace Episcopal Church, Woodlawn Avenue, at William Street,
“When you look out and see that swan swimming in the water, wave and find comfort in knowing that’s me.”
—Barbara “LuLu” Houtman