May 23, 2018
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Mother, cancer patient whose wish for new house was granted, dies at 35

By Jessica Bloch, BDN Staff

Sonya Barclay, the Old Town mother of four whose struggle with cancer sparked a community-wide movement to grant her wish for a new house for her family, died early Wednesday.

Barclay’s longtime friend Jennifer Dudley of Winterport, who was one of three women who spearheaded the effort for the new home on Bennoch Road, said Barclay, 35, died sometime before 5 a.m. at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

“[Barclay friend Lana Phillips] and I were wondering whether having them in a healthier environment … carried her a lot further than if they had stayed in their original house,” Dudley said Wednesday afternoon. “She had it, even for just a little while, and in a lot of ways that brought her a lot of comfort.”

Details about funeral arrangements were not available Wednesday afternoon.

Barclay had been in EMMC in Bangor since Saturday, Dudley said. She had not been strong enough for regular treatments this summer, Dudley added, and started to go downhill this weekend.

Barclay was diagnosed in 2004 with breast cancer which eventually metastasized and spread throughout her body.

The story of the Barclay family, including Sonya, husband Jeff, 10-year-old daughter Logan Leonard, son Derek Barclay, 8, and daughters Madyson, 5, and Mackenzie, 4, grabbed local attention in May.

Individuals in Old Town and beyond wound up contributing thousands of dollars in construction materials and thousands of hours in volunteer time to build the new house.

The family was living in a trailer that Sonya and Jeff Barclay believed was making their children sick because of mold. The trailer frame was also starting to buckle. The building was getting to be too small for the two adults, four children and a large family dog.

Sonya told local media her wish was to see her family in a new home by the time she died.

Donations of time, money and materials began to flow in, and thanks to the coordination efforts of Dudley, Phillips and Brandi Folsom, her wish was granted in late May. In about a three-week span, the old trailer was razed and the new home was ready. The family saw it for the first time on Tuesday, May 27.

“I just want a home that my children are safe and secure in, and if I was to leave this earth, know that my husband and my kids are safe,” Barclay said in May before the start of the community effort. “I don’t care if it’s a double-wide or what it is. As long as it’s healthy, safe and secure.”

Around 400 volunteers and 25 companies contributed in some way.

The story, initially reported by CBS’ local affiliate WABI, was aired on the national CBS Evening News on Friday, June 6.

Dudley said Wednesday Barclay was home Friday and had attended a baptism for Dudley’s 3-week-old daughter for whom Barclay had agreed to be a godmother. The baptism was held in the Barclays’ house.

“I’m heartbroken [but] I was at peace with the way we left things,” said Dudley, who spent Sunday night at EMMC with Barclay. “[The baptism] was bittersweet, something that she really wanted to do. It was very touching.”

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