Music 20

Barbara Heisler

March 5, 1931 ~ November 16, 2020 (age 89)


Barbara New Heisler passed away peacefully Monday, November 16, 2020. Barbara was born in Westfield on March 5, 1931, to the late Samuel and Gertrude (Finnell) New. She was a resident of Washington, D.C. until her family moved back to Westfield when she was 12 years old. She graduated from Westfield High School in 1949 and returned to Washington to attend the Greet Dramatic Academy. Returning to Westfield to marry her high school sweetheart Robert F. Heisler in 1951, she and Bob welcomed a son Robert, Jr. in 1952 and a daughter, Lerryn in 1954. She began her career in radio in 1958 at Westfield station WDEW after making numerous contacts through her weekly column “In the Swim” with Alla Wette for the Westfield Newspaper. Her career spanned over three decades as a talk show personality moving from WDEW to WREB in Holyoke in 1966 and on to WPTF in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1980. In 1984 she returned to Holyoke finishing her radio career in Westfield at WNNZ. Her broadcasts included interviews of guests Norman Rockwell, Ted Kennedy, actress Gloria Swanson and critic Rex Reed. She continued working taking a part time position for Olde Holyoke Development, retiring from the Elms in 2014 at age 83. Her passion was cultural identity and the arts, whether acting in plays at Williamstown Playhouse, the Casino in the Park in Mountain Park or Westfield Theatre Group she was always promoting the importance of understanding and celebrating cultural diversity. She was also an active member of the Valley Opportunity Council, Holyoke Cultural Council as well as the Disabilities Commission. She leaves her son Robert F. Heisler, Jr. and his wife Maureen O’Meara of Whitehall, PA, her daughter Lerryn Godden of Westfield; grandchildren Allison Forsyth, Daniel Godden, Alexis Godden, Rebecca McCarthy and Brenda Heisler and great granddaughter Charlotte Godden. Barbara was predeceased by her sister Lynda McNulty and nephew Kevin McNulty of Enfield, CT and leaves her brother-in-law Bill and nephews Sean, Michael, and Samuel. She also leaves her dear friend and partner of 33 years, Charles York of Holyoke, MA. The family would like to thank the wonderful health care professionals and care givers at Mt. St. Vincent Care Center in Holyoke, MA for their compassion and support during these difficult times. Services will be scheduled at a later date. Anyone interested in details regarding a memorial for Barbara may email Bob at or Lerryn at In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Westfield Woman’s Club, 28 Court Street, Westfield, MA 01085.

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