Obituary for Atsuko Kawakami Barber

Atsuko Kawakami Barber (Kitty), 89 (forever 22), died peacefully on December 21, 2020 at the First Health Hospice and Palliative Care in Pinehurst, NC.  She was born in Osaka, Japan on June 25, 1931 to the late Ichiyoshi and Kame Kawakami. Her lifelong passion was being a wife, mother and grandmother.   Her fans affectionately knew her as “Grandma Kitty” or “Ms. Kitty”.  All that met her and even those who had only heard of her legendary status loved her.

Kitty was married to the late Robert L. Barber, Sr. and is the mother of 5 children, grandmother to 11, great grandmother to 3, and adopted grandmother to many more.   She is survived by daughters Linda “Dinda Do” Barber of Southern Pines, NC, Janet “Jinato” McDaniel (Mac) of Morganton, NC, Debra “Debbie Donald” Barber of West End, NC, Goldie “Ruth” Purvis (Marvin “Marvo”) of Carthage, NC, and Cindy White of West End, NC, and her baby boy Robert L. Barber, Jr (Stephanie) of West End.  Her surviving grandchildren are Tiffany Barber, Robbie “Dobbie” McDaniel (Devon), Ryne Purvis (Shannon), Kristin “Krissy” Merrick (Brandi), Kyler Purvis (Abbi), Layton “Jason” Barber, Cassady Purvis, Aemon Barber, Braxton Barber, Chance Purvis, and Roston Barber.  She loved all babies and three of her greatest joys were her great grandchildren, KJ, Harper and Lincoln. Many people, including extended family and friends, love Grandma Kitty and listing them all would be impossible. Kitty is preceded in death by her husband, Robert L Barber Sr., son-in-law Mark Barber, father Ichiyoshi Kawakami, mother Kame Kawakami, brother Motohisa Kawakami, and sister Nobuko Kawakami.

Kitty’s greatest love was her family and the ocean.  She enjoyed her drives to “California” and was the biggest fan of her boys playing football and baseball.  One of her favorite past times was putting together jigsaw puzzles, “studying” and teaching her grandchildren to play “Dummy” (Rummy).  Kitty was a hard “working girl” that loved the outdoors and doing yard work.  She was the life of every party and she loved “making a party.”  Everybody has a Grandma Kitty story and they all end with a laugh and a smile.   Her legacy is her unconditional love, generosity and compassion. Her “You better believe it” attitude created many unforgettable memories for all. 

Kitty always wanted to take care of others.  One of her passions was to feed everybody even if you just finished eating. In lieu of flowers, the family request that contributions made be to your local food bank in memory of Kitty.

“Kids…Breakfast all ready” ~ Kitty Barber

Due to Covid restrictions, the ceremony will be private, but you may view the service by going to  starting Saturday, Dec. 26th at 11:00 am.

Online condolences may be made at

Services are entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.

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