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James Swasey Barden

June 30, 1927 ~ December 9, 2018 (age 91)

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     James " Jim " Barden, 91 of Ava Maria Drive died Sunday December 9, 2018 at the Hudson Valley Rehabilitation Center after a brief stay.  He was born June 30, 1927 in Poughkeepsie son of the late John Freeman Barden Sr. and Gertrude Swasey Barden.  He was a graduate of Poughkeepsie High School, and then joined the United States Navy, having served on the U.S.S. Topeka in the Pacific Theater during World War II.   Jim  earned the Victory Medal, American Theater Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Medal.  His service to his country did not end with his honorable discharge.  He was active with the Veteran's of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion Post 950 of Phoenicia.  Jim was an active member of the Military Honor Guard.   Jim had a home right on the banks of the Esopus Creek, and was an avid fly fisherman and enthusiast.   He began  a 34 year career with the then New York Telephone Co. in 1948.  He worked as a lineman, splicer, line & splicing foreman, and retired in 1982 as an outside plant engineer.  Being active with the Telephone Pioneers of America, Jim held several positions including Council President and Life Member Representative at 3 General assemblies, serving Ulster, Dutchess, and Sullivan counties.  Jim was a vibrant member of the St. Francis de Sales Parish where he attended daily Mass, and was a long time cantor, Lector, Eucharistic Minister and choir member.  Jim could be counted on to join the choir each Sunday, as well as honoring parishioners at Funeral Masses.  Jim was a Life member of the Fourth Degree at the Fr Ginet Council Knights of Columbus. Additionally he sang many years with the Community Chorale of the Catskills, and the Phoenicia Choir.  He was part of the Chorale Opera Choir for the Belleayre Music Festivals, and has been a participating singer in the choir for ALL of the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice performances!  Jim was a member of the Phoenicia Rotary Club for thirty years, having enjoyed volunteering with the club's  Scholastic Dictionary Project at the elementary school.  Jim was always available for Duck ticket Sales on the street, and many years was the  seller of the most tickets!  He was a member of the Shandaken Senior Citizens.  He was a local fixture at the Shandaken Theatrical Society.  Jim Barden was one of the original members of The Shandaken Theatrical Society and was the last member of his peers to continue to perform.  Jim was still a regular on the stage at STS, his final appearance was just last summer in Mamma Mia!, he was 91 years old.  A lifelong aficionado of the theatre, Jim first appeared on the STS Stage in 1980 dating.   It’s hard to list all of the productions that he was a part of, but most recently appeared in Oklahoma, The Wedding Singer, The Sunshine Boys, The Apple Tree, Cabaret, The Mousetrap and Carousel.  His favorite role was the Rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof.  When Jim wasn’t in a production he never failed to attend the theatre, supporting his fellow actors.    He was also a member of the Phoenicia Community Choir. He has also appeared with Coach House Players, P.A.W., U.P.A.C., U.C.C.,  Holiday Dinner Theater and voicing radio ads.  In his final Bio for Mamma Mia, Jim wrote of himself " he plans to continue as long as he can,” and he did just that.  He will be greatly missed.  He also had acting roles in two Hollywood movies that were filmed locally, "The Road to Wellville" and "You Can Count on Me".   He was also a member of the AANR, and cruised with the group to Carribean locations.  Jim was a wonderful and kind individual who encouraged all ages at the Phoenicia Playhouse.  He had a sparkle in his eye, and a very generous heart. 

     Surviving are his wife Marilyn Jean McCarty Barden, a daughter Kathleen (William) Beehler of Poughkeepsie, 2 sons: James of Hyde Park, and Brian (Jeanette) of Saranac Lake.  4 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews also survive.  He was predeceased by an infant son Jeffrey in 1956, and brothers Victor and John. 

     A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday at 3pm at the St. Francis de Sales Church Main St. Phoenicia.  Burial at the family plot in the St. Peter's Cemetery Poughkeepsie will be Friday at 10am.  Friends will be received on Thursday from 12 noon to 2:30pm at the E. B. Gormley Funeral Home 87 Main St. Phoenicia.  You may share a "Jim Story" on his Tribute Wall at


To send flowers to James' family, please visit our floral section.


December 13, 2018

12:00 PM to 2:30 PM
E. B. Gormley Funeral Home
87 Main Street P.O.Box 97
Phoenicia, NY 12464

Mass of Christian Burial
December 13, 2018

3:00 PM
St. Francis de Sales Church
104 Main Street
Phoenicia, New York 12464

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