Caroline Equawumi Barrett, 74 of Perryville, Maryland, passed away on March 4, 2021 at the University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Born November 26, 1946 in Koko, Nigeria, she was the daughter of the late John A. and Esther Ede Kpenosen.
Caroline attended primary school in Sapele, Nigeria and moved to London in 1966 where she graduated from the Paris Academy of Fashion and Design. In 1971 she moved to the US and graduated from the LaRose Beauty Institute located in Petersburg, Virginia. She was subsequently licensed to practice cosmetology in the states of Virginia and North Carolina.
Her father was the driving force in a life earmarked with hard work, creativity and compassion. Her father rewarded hard work and creativity and encouraged her to be bold. When his business fortunes turned, she modeled his efforts by taking care of her younger brothers and sisters and looked for more creative ways to support their success. Caroline then moved to the big city of Lagos, Nigeria and worked in modeling, acting on television and advertising.
Caroline later moved to London and worked at the Nigerian Embassy where she met the Queen of England as a Nigerian Embassy staffer. Her first of what would be many entrepreneurial efforts included sewing human hair sections to be used in weave-ins and hair extensions for merchants in London. It was during this time that she met her husband who was serving in England in the US Air Force. Caroline married Henry L. Barrett in 1970 and for 50 years, shared his life as, among other things, a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). They renewed their vows on two separate occasions; once at a Native and custom ceremony in Caroline’s home of Koko Nigeria and then, at the Church in Israel where Jesus Christ turned water into wine.
The family moved to Durham North Carolina in 1971 where, Caroline owned two wig boutiques and a Beauty salon. In 1979, the family moved to Monrovia, Liberia where Henry served as an Advisor to the Minister of Finance and they remained there for over 10 years. While there, she opened a state-of-the art beauty salon, named Madam Carol’s House of Beauty and Charm (Featured in a Washington Post article on Liberia in 1985).
In 1990, the family moved to Singapore where Henry was posted with the USAID Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Over the next four years Caroline immersed herself in Asian antiques and culture with travels to Brunei, Philippines and Indonesia before returning to the US in 1995. In 1997 Caroline accompanied Henry to Senegal where she actively participated in the activities of the American diplomatic community and met President and Mrs. Clinton during their visit to Senegal in April 1998. They moved to Perryville, Maryland in 2002 and lived there until her passing.
Caroline continued to enjoy her multiple travels and visits to Nigeria, London, Israel and a number of states. She was always excited about meeting new people and learning different cultures and traditions. She would especially “beam up” when her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews would come for visits. She was also very passionate about supporting her aging relatives in Nigeria. One of her nephews is fond of saying that “there is no problem that aunty can’t solve.”
Caroline was an active member of the Pleasant View Baptist Church of Port Deposit, Maryland and she was especially proud of her baptism in the Jordan River during her travel to Israel. Caroline is survived by her loving husband of 50 years, Henry; son, Michael; daughter, Juliana; two grand-children, Boma and Abiye; and four brothers and sisters.