Barbara Hyland, ‘modern mother,’ loved opera and auto racing


Loved and Lost is a project about memorializing those lost to COVID-19 in NJ.

This story is part of Loved and Lost, a statewide media collaboration working to celebrate the life of every New Jersey resident who died of COVID-19. To learn more and submit a loved one’s name to be profiled, visit

Born during the Depression, Barbara Hyland learned how to work hard, save her pennies and find a way through the tough times.

Along the way, she developed a wide range of interests that stretched from opera to auto racing.

“She was a modern mother,” Scott Hyland said. “She transformed very well into modern society. She definitely did it her way.”

Barbara Hyland (Photo: Courtesy of the Hyland family)

That included working jobs for decades to provide primary support for her son and daughter between two husbands. She retired at age 60 from her job as a payroll supervisor for Hunterdon Central High School in her native Flemington.

“She was born and raised in Hunterdon County,” Scott said. “She was born in 1933 in a stone house on Main Street, in the Historic District, across from the Presbyterian Church.”

Barbara was able to retire young because “she saved.”

“She grew up during the Great Depression era and she was frugal, no doubt about it,” he said. “She was also very intelligent. She did not need any financial planners.”

Even while supporting her family, Barbara savored other aspects of life. She was interested in the Depression and World War II history, accumulating a library of books on the subjects. 

Loved and Lost: Lucy Sarappo was fiercely independent with a generous side

Loved and Lost: Bernard Waddell Sr. was a family man and Hudson County corrections officer

Music followed her, from playing in the high school band to appreciating classical works, opera and musical theater, which included many years of season tickets to Paper Mill Playhouse.

But nothing got in the way of her Saturday nights soaking in the sounds, smells and excitement of dirt-track racing at the old Flemington Fair Speedway.

“We were regulars at Box 4, seats 1 to 4, for I can’t tell you how many years,” Scott said. “There’s 8-millimeter film of me running around the infield as a 2-year-old. She was a huge race-car fan. She liked the modifieds.”

She swore off of it after the track was paved in 1991, but Scott lured her back to Box 4 “and we continued to go until they closed it [in 2002],” he said.

Barbara had her limits, though, refusing to go to the track when Scott took up racing himself in 1999.

“She did not want to be around if anything happened to me,” Scott said.

Barbara remained “sharp as a tack” until she died at age 87 on May 26.

“She was still doing spreadsheets on her medicines and bills,” Scott marveled. “She was never a day late or a dollar short.” 

Read or Share this story:

Source Article