Dr. Barbara K. Caparulo, Psy.D.

Obituary of Dr. Barbara K. Caparulo, Psy.D.

Putnam – Dr. Barbara K. Caparulo, Psy.D. of Putnam Connecticut, passed away peacefully and quietly on October 31, 2020 at home with her loved ones by her side after a long and courageous struggle with Alzheimer’s disease at age 73.

Barbara was born on April 24, 1947. She was the daughter of the late John and Gertrude Steffens Kinnirey. She grew up in the Portland, CT area. She attended the former Putnam Catholic Academy as a boarding student, graduating in 1965. Barbara then embarked on a truly remarkable lifetime of successful educational and professional achievement.

Barbara attended Southern CT State University majoring in Psychology and Special Education. She taught children with special needs before directing the New Haven division of the federal government’s Migrant Children Education Program through the University of Hartford. She then worked at the Yale University Medical School/Child Study Center. While there she attended the Graduate School of Arts and Science at YaleUniversity earning a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology with an emphasis on Developmental Psycholinguistics and Social Cognition. In the year 2000, Barbara obtained her Doctorate in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. 

Barbara’s career teaching children with special needs quickly blossomed into 10 years of research into the genetic and biological causes of autism spectrum disorders. This led to her becoming the Director of Developmental Disabilities in a large mental health center which was participating in the deinstitutionalization in Massachusetts during the time when state-run institutional facilities for persons with behavioral disabilities were being closed. She became clinically affiliated with The Institute of Professional Practice where her extensive research, knowledge, training and leadership experience drew her to begin to assess how people with complex and misunderstood behavior disorders could be properly evaluated and effectively taught.

The last part of Barbara’s career brought her into the lives of countless families who had loved ones with severe behavior disorders that crippled family life and often led to hospitalizations and institutionalization. Her groundbreaking research and extensive experience with autism spectrum disorders gave families the first hope they had ever known, and helped them understand the root issues behind their loved ones baffling behaviors. She developed plans to help affected individuals develop appropriate ways to express their feelings, even when they had little or no language processing. For the families of these individuals, she was a miracle worker!

Barbara never let her brilliance get in the way of a good old-fashioned practical plan. She was all about the people she helped and never herself. Barbara’s greatest gift as a professional was the ability to see through the issues affecting an individual, find the genuine person in desperate need of help, and provide life changing strategies that brought dignity and some measure of happiness to lives of so many who, prior to her intervention, were voiceless.

These accomplishments were more of a vocation, a calling for Barbara. She loved to help people. Barbara possessed an extraordinarily wonderful talent for being able to understand and connect with everyone she knewand met. When one met Barbara, one had a new friend. She always made you feel welcomed and comfortable in her presence. Knowing her was a gift. She was a beautiful soul with a limitless love for life, her family and her friends.

Barbara was an avid reader. She loved the outdoors and the wildlife and plant life that came with that love. She was also an avid gardener and enjoyed bird watching. And she found particular enjoyment in people watching as well.

Barbara is survived by her beloved wife Celeste R. Chartier with whom she made her home for thirty-sevenyears. She leaves a large extended family including sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews. She will be missed greatly by a wealth of friends and colleagues who dearly loved her. She also leaves a special friend/family member and caregiver Lucy MacWilliams. 

Celeste also wishes to thank Dr. Joseph Botta for his collaboration with and care for Barbara.

Barbara was predeceased by her parents John Kinnirey, Gertrude Steffens Kinnirey and a brother John.


A Successful Life

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the false betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty;

to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


A celebration of Barbara’s extraordinary life will be announced and take place next spring. You can honor Barbara with a gift to The Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA or to the Alzheimer’s Association of Connecticut.


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