World War II Veteran honored 28 years after her death

Jun 8, 2024

MIDDLEBORO — Elisabeth Lavoie Barrows can finally rest in peace.

One of over 23,000 women to serve in the Marine Corps in World War II, Barrows died on June 12, 1996. And up until now, she remained in an unmarked grave in her family’s mausoleum. 

A ceremony was held on Saturday, June 8 at the Nemasket Hill Cemetery to unveil a military marker recognizing Barrows for her service as a Marine Corps Sergeant. The marker was placed outside the mausoleum that houses Barrows’ tomb, where was she was laid to rest next to her husband and fellow veteran Fletcher Lawton Barrows. 

The ceremony was the result of a years-long effort spearheaded by the Nemasket Hill Cemetery Association’s Veteran Trustee Marty Gladu. 

“I am a firm believer that all veterans should be marked and honored,” said Gladu, who has worked to update the list of veterans in the cemetery and make sure that each veterans’ grave has a military marker. 

Middleboro’s Veterans Agent Steve Adelman also played an important part in making sure Barrows was finally recognized.

Barrows, known by her family as “Betty,” was honored during the ceremony with a speech delivered by fellow Marine and Veterans Service Officer of Westport Carol Freitas and a gun salute by the Marine Corps Honor Guard. 

“It is unclear why her resting place was not marked, but thanks to the efforts of Marty Gladu and Steve Adelman, Betty is finally getting the recognition and honors that she so deserves 28 years after her passing,” said Freitas. 

Barrows served in the Marine Corps from August of 1943 until December of 1945. She was 35 years old when she enlisted. Barrows served as a Paymaster in the Marine Corps. 

She was a Middleboro resident and a member of the Central Congregational Church for 30 years.

Present for the unveiling of the military marking were Ellen and Kathy Hansen, great nieces of Elisabeth Lavoie Barrows. Both had driven up from Connecticut for the special occasion. 

Barrows’ great nieces expressed their admiration for the efforts made by Gladu, Adelman and Freitas to finally give their relative the ending she deserved, despite all the years that had passed. 

“The fact that she’s being recognized for her service after so many years… is meaningful,” said Ellen Hansen. But what’s more meaningful, she noted, “is the fact that these people dedicate so much of their lives volunteering … to track family down and get wrongs righted or corrections made.”

Kathy Hansen said she and Ellen were especially grateful to Marty Gladu for tracking them down on “Marty Gladu is our Sherlock Holmes,” she noted with a smile.  

Elisabeth Lavoie Barrows died on June 12, 1996, 48 years to the day after the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act was passed, which allowed women to receive permanent status in the US armed forces.