Barbara and the Rev. Merle "Skip" Pimentel
In Ipswich, a tightly knit, 50-member church continues to honor the legacy of its former pastor, the Rev. Merle “Skip” Pimentel, a much-loved man of his community who died in November 2019, by supporting the Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice.
Barbara Pimentel leads the way as primary torch bearer and involves her church, Immanuel Baptist Church, in memory of her husband, Skip.
“I love talking about my husband,” she says, the love and pride evident in her voice. “He was an advocate for the poor, for the elderly, for the sick, those who need care. He was passionate about everything he became involved in.”
A pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Ipswich until he retired in 1988, Skip was also one of the founders of Hospice of the North Shore, now Care Dimensions. More than 40 years ago a group of volunteers congregated in the basement at St. John’s Church in Peabody with the hope to one day be able to offer dying people social, emotional and spiritual support, to enable them to die with dignity on their own terms.
Over time, area hospitals, visiting nurse associations, faith communities, community aging services, lawyers, and other committed community activists joined. On June 1, 1979, Hospice of the North Shore officially was born, the second hospice to incorporate in Massachusetts.
“This organization is what Skip lived for,” Barbara says. “Much later, he also volunteered at Care Dimensions, visiting patients in their homes and in a nursing home for eight years. He just loved people.
“Care Dimensions was so very important to him,” she says.
Now Barbara, 87, a former Hamilton-Wenham elementary school teacher, inspires members of her church to support the Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice, relying on her “50 years of friendships” for support. “Oh, I walked for years and years and, when I wasn’t able to walk the two miles, I handed out T-shirts and food,” she says.
And so, she continues her volunteerism as a tribute to her husband, whom she adored.
“Care Dimensions took care of my husband when he was sick, made sure he was comfortable,” she says. “I think about all the work Care Dimensions has done for me, my husband and my friends as well. And right up to the very day he died, Skip was there for Care Dimensions, just like Care Dimensions was with him at the end.”
Ed. Note: Fresh from her walk with her daughter on Thursday, September 24, 2020, Barbara reported she had raised $750 for Walk for Hospice.