BARTH, Barbara Anne
January 21, 1930 - March 25, 2021
Rarely in life does one encounter a soul infused with such exuberance and joy for life as Barbara Barth. She radiated a sparkling, positive, and uncomplicated spirit that was immediately evident to all she encountered, friend and stranger alike. A friend wrote on the day of her death relating his first encounter with her. Seeing a silver-haired woman from a distance in a crowded theater lobby, he thought, "How tiny this woman is!" And then immediately upon meeting her, "So much genuine joy and caring packed into that tiny - and very elegant - person."!"
Barbara's infectious energy was matched only by her unflagging curiosity. "You know me. I always love to learn something new" was her mantra right to her last days. When introduced to a subject that interested her, she typically dug up additional resources to increase her understanding. As a lifelong learner, her passion for knowing more contributed greatly to her exceptional 20-year teaching career at Springfield's
Catholic Central High School. With one year at Miami of Ohio before her first marriage in 1950, Barbara enrolled at Wittenberg University. Initially apprehensive of competing with teenagers coming directly from high school, she nevertheless became a star pupil.
It is no surprise that Barbara majored in English, since her love of literature from an early age was so significant. She always LOVED reading, and in her early years growing up, read books and recited poetry aloud to her younger sister Beverly.
Rudyard Kipling, Eugene Field, Robert Frost, A.A. Milne. In her final days, Beverly sat at Barbara's bedside and reciprocated with some of the same writings.
Barbara's seemingly limitless curiosity contributed to her popular teaching style. It was her practice to routinely supplement required reading with complementary materials she had
researched (without the aid of the internet). She presented articles, music, video-taped plays and television programs that enhanced the basic curriculum. Barbara's expectation was that her students be challenged to understand more than just the words on the page. She wanted her young people to think, to explore, and to discuss works within a larger framework, making connections beyond the words on the page. Driven by her passion for children's literature, she was compelled to rework an existing "kiddie lit" course early in her teaching tenure, something perhaps not popular with the school's hierarchy. Naturally, she is widely recognized by former students as the rare teacher who had a powerful impact on their lives.
Barbara's love of the performing arts was lifelong. From an early age, she loved the movies, and especially the soundtracks. Barbara's large recorded music collection is wonderfully diverse, as is her library of books. Since the inception of the Summer Arts Festival in the late 60s, she has passionately supported the annual offerings in Cliff Park, and was regularly seen 'passing the hat' through the crowd, where her personality usually won over any recalcitrant attendees. Her children were active in Music Stage productions, and she always made sure that, despite late nights of rehearsing and building scenery, everyone had a baloney sandwich, some fresh fruit, and lemonade (with ice) to sustain them.
Barbara's front door was open to her friends, her children's friends, and to some for whom social acceptance was rebuffed. Fresh coffee and accepting conversation abounded. Most often these gatherings took place in her kitchen, and each visitor was encouraged to 'sign' her kitchen wall with colored magic markers, a testament to the unconventional. A slender model of fitness and healthy eating, she rode her bike in town before it was fashionable, and was often hailed by her friends from cars when, later in life, she walked the Fountain Avenue boulevard with her characteristic high energy and determined gait.
In 1984, she married another lover of words and of the local community, Allan Barth, who spent most of his career at the Springfield News-Sun. She and Allan were chosen to be volunteers at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where her three children resided, and the couple performed their duties with great gusto outside in the concrete baseball stadium in the HOTlanta heat and humidity. She was 66 that summer. Her children sometimes called her "Old Fuzzyhead" and her grandchildren always call her "Grandma Buzzy". Her favorite nicknames were "my boyfriend" for Allan, and "madame queen" for her beloved daughter.
Though she was "tiny", Barbara couldn't be missed in a crowd because of her beautiful silver hair. She loved good-looking clothes, rainbows, Christmas, the comics, sunsets, and the sky in general. The more fireworks and balloons, the better! The seasons, all of them, and the holidays, all of them, were relished, celebrated, and brought her great joy that she then shared with all around her. Birthdays, never forgotten, were marked with a timely snail mail card, children's friends included.
And in the last days of Barbara's life, as her daughter held her hand at her bedside and they spoke of poignant things,
Barbara looked at Kiki and said with a big smile, "
and the whole shebang has been worth it!" Tombstone material! Her family includes her daughter, Kiki Wilson; two sons, Kevin Follrath and Noel Follrath (Minnie); 3 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, all of Atlanta; her sister, Beverly Krein of Denver, and a niece and 3 nephews. She is predeceased in death by her parents, C. Anjean Hubbard, and Philo G.
Botsford, music director of the Springfield High School Band for 30 years. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Covenant Presbyterian Church
(https://www.springfieldcovenant.org), where Barbara was a lifelong member; the Springfield Symphony Orchestra
(https://springfieldsym.org);the Springfield Arts Council
(http://www.springfieldartscouncil.org); or the Friends of the Library, 201 S. Fountain Ave, Springfield, OH 45506. A celebration gathering is being planned, date and time to be
The LITTLETON & RUE FUNERAL HOME is serving the family. Condolences and memories of Barb may be shared at