HILLSBORO, NH: Barbara Amelia Rose Tozer Knox died peacefully at Hillsboro House Nursing Home in Hillsboro, New Hampshire on March 26, 2023, surrounded by family and a caring staff. She was born June 10, 1922, in the seaside town of Bude, Cornwall, England, the third of five children raised by John and Rosa Tozer. Her father’s death, when Barbara was only 13, had a profound and lasting effect. Her mother needed to convert their home into a bed and breakfast to support the family, moving the children to an outbuilding and deputizing the four girls as staff to serve the guests.
Barbara was the first member of her family to go to college, and became a teacher at a boys school in London. During World War II, she evacuated the schoolchildren to the countryside and became not only their teacher, but also their confidante, taking students after school to buy cream puffs as a treat.
Barbara met her future husband, Leslie Knox, when she returned to Bude for her birthday in 1943. After a whirlwind courtship with Barbara, Les feared he’d never see her again and they married on May 14, 1944. Their first son, John, was born while Les was at war.
In 1946, Barbara immigrated with son, John, to the family’s farm in Weare, New Hampshire, where the reunited couple milked cows and raised chickens. Barbara loved her children, John, Paul, and Jean dearly and devoted her life to them, their extended family, and the community that grew up around the farm. She gave many neighbors and farm workers a home away from home, for decades.
Always an educator, Barb taught her children to read and write before they started school. Her grandson Josh, “played countless games of naughts & crosses.” Many of you probably think of it as tic-tac-toe, but that will never be the name of the game for me. She also read me stories, many of them from the wonderful Concord Monitor “Tell Me A Story”. Folk tales and Arthurian legend played a formative role for me. I still love board games, and the nuances and intricacies of the English language; I believe I can credit much of both to her. She inspired her grandchildren, Dylan and Savannah, to go down to the beach and find sea glass, instilling a will to explore the beaches in front of the family’s seaside home. Although she expected academic excellence from her children and grandchildren, she also encouraged sports and extracurricular activities, as she was captain of her field hockey team, a swimmer, cyclist, and tennis player.
Barbara was an avid letter and postcard writer to her children and grandchildren. She also taught Sunday school, led a 4-H club, and served on the Weare School Board, all while doing the bookkeeping for both the farm and an equipment business that she and Les started in 1962.
Barb enjoyed making Cornish pasties, a meat pie popular with Cornish miners. She prepared a delicious fish dinner caught by grandson, Dan, despite the protests of "Grandpa" who insisted he caught the biggest fish!
In her senior years, Barbara was visited daily by her son John and his wife Rodalyn, her grandson, Brian, purchased her house and became a breakfast companion, bringing prize-winning chickens into their home for her to admire. Rodalyn cooked daily meals for Barbara and John drove her in style to the Pancake House most Sundays. Paul and Jean enjoyed her company at Rockbound, the family’s seaside cottage, in the late spring, summer, and early fall, where family and friends could visit and enjoy lobster dinners by the sea. It was there that she rescued grandson, Matt, from being washed out to sea on Whaleback, a popular spot to watch the surf and enjoy the sunrise.
Barbara assumed many roles throughout her life, chef, caretaker, teacher, fashion designer, bookkeeper, and finally, doting grandmother and great-grandmother.
A celebration of life will be held from 12 pm to 2 pm on July 6, 2023 at the New Brackett Church, Peaks Island, Maine. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Peaks Island Health Center, which allowed Barbara to spend many summers, well cared for at Rockbound by the sea. You may send a check, made out to the Peaks Island Health Center, PO Box 52, Peaks Island, ME, 04108.