Linda Barrera, Director of the Longtime Rock Hall Museum, passes at 67 | Community Newspapers Herald

Linda Barrera has been interested in the Lawrence Rock Hall Museum for 37 years, 27 of whom were its director. Established new programmes, it transforms an 18th century farm-turned-museum into a lively venue that attracts children and adults with activities, concerts, and the annual two-day country fair.

Barrera, a longtime Lawrence resident, passed away on April 27. She was 67 years old.

Barrera was a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, friend, and pillar of her community. She entered the museum grounds four decades ago, never imagining she would call it home, and changed it forever.

Barrera was born in Glen Cove on February 18, 1955, and was raised with Italian parents, Paul and Rosemary Foti, two brothers, Robert and Rick, and a sister, Carol. Throughout her life, she revered her Italian family and traditions.

In 1985, shortly after the birth of her first daughter, Erica, Parreira began her career in the museum. Within 10 years, her interest, creativity, and patronage of rock hall music led to her being promoted to director of the museum from a managerial position.

During her tenure, she created the Garden Club and Country Fair. She organized educational lectures, concerts, summer parties, and vintage car shows, “bringing the community around her to share the things that brought her happiness,” her daughter, now Erica Paris, wrote in an email. Through these programmes, Barrera got to know young and old members of the community.

Interim manager Amy Facchio, who has worked with Barreira for 22 years, said she’s started a “family” at Rock Hall.

Making the most of the museum’s garden and fresh eggs, Barreira served home-cooked breakfasts, scrambled and fried eggplant florets (as her grandparents taught her to make), and her famous artichoke quiche and pesto pasta to the office staff. She also gave the staff and guests the alpaca spun yarns, Betty and Pauli. “It was just her way,” Barriss said.

In the mid-1990s, after Barrera had two more daughters, Katie and Taylor, she moved into the museum’s residence hall.

“My relationship with Rock Hall has grown over the years, just as a mother has with her children,” she wrote in an email a few weeks before her death. “At first it’s as simple as food and water, then the needs become more complex.”

“It wasn’t just a building, it was a house that needed breathing, that needed heartbeats outside and inside,” she added. “It was a garden that needed to be watered at all times, so that it looked fresh, lively and cared for every day. I found that Rock Hall needed love and attention daily. If I walked away from the museum I felt like breath was coming out of it, and I had to be back ASAP. Possible.I cared about that, and I think there’s a maternal aspect to my care–just like a mother who should stay away from a baby–there [were] There were never more than a few moments before the museum needed to be taken care of.”

Barrera “felt that she dreamed through her work,” Barreira wrote, “and cherishes historical colonialism as a mother does her child—in spite of all that he was and all that he could be.”
Each Barrera child had a unique experience growing up on the historic grounds, reading, gardening and tending to farm animals.

Of Rock Hall Paris remembers: “I could walk to school, and my mom would give me my lunch on the fence when I forgot about it. I liked to forget about my lunch. I’d like to show my friends the museum and have an overnight stay in the main hall.”

As she expands her vision for the museum — from creating programs to planting trees and flowers — Parreira has set a high bar for future directors.

While some “may not have known it personally,” Barris wrote, “it almost certainly influenced your life in some way for the better.”

A memorial service for Barrera was held at Trinity-St. St. John’s Church in Hewlett on April 30. It was led by Reverend Chris Ballard, a member of Friends of Rock Hall and a good friend of Barrera as well.

Family, friends, co-workers and community members gathered at the memorial to celebrate Parreira’s life. She is survived by her brothers, daughters, and granddaughter Lucia Luna Paris Foster.

Barriss wrote, “Mom, we are all incredibly proud of you and will forever carry you in our hearts.”

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