November 13, 1934-June 21, 2018
Barbara Gay Barbee-Pelzel was born November 13, 1934 in Upper Darby, PA. Although her family moved often, Phoenix, AZ was home. She attended Arizona State University, joined Gamma Phi Beta sorority and became President of the Women’s Student Association. After college, she earned her Master’s degree at UCLA and moved to Coronado, CA to teach school. There she met the dashing naval officer, Gale Barbee. They were married in 1959 and moved to Seattle where Gale attended law school and Barbara taught fourth grade. Barbara and Gale had three children and enjoyed their family vacations camping, skiing, and cycling. They also enjoyed many quiet moments in the woodland home they built together.
Barbara was a member of the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, serving on many committees, in leadership and service roles. She enjoyed her friendships there, particularly when a Table Talk Group morphed into the extended “Ft. Worden Family”, gathering for over 40 years each Thanksgiving weekend. Her service extended in many directions, including Ryther Child Center. Over 50 years she and her friends in the Noel Unit raised many thousands of dollars to benefit children in Ryther’s residential treatment.
In her forties, Barbara studied accounting and began a new career, first as a bookkeeper and later, as Assistant to the Director of Corporate Giving at Ackerley Communications. In her fifties, Gale died (1993) and Barbara was comforted by a group of friends who remain very close. These women became her “Chosen Sisters”. She later met and married (1997) Robert Burry Pelzel, enjoying 20 happy years together, traveling extensively, cooking, hearing symphony concerts and relaxing at Burry’s cabin on Hood Canal. They were fortunate to find love a second time and to be beautifully embraced by each other’s friends and families. Burry died in 2016, just as Barbara learned of her cancer diagnosis.
Barbara was a loving, gracious, and generous person, often going to great lengths to keep her commitments. She faced death with courage and dignity, passing away at home, surrounded by family. We will miss her dearly and will remember her always, with much love and affection. Barbara is survived by her three children Stephanie, David, Sara and spouses; step-children Anne, Leigh and partners, grandchildren Grace, Mattie, Michael, Sophia, Tom, and Max; great grandchild, Faye; sister-in-law Judy, nephew Glenn, and nieces Terri and DeAnne and many friends.
A memorial service will be held at 2 pm July 18 at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, consider making a contribution to the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church or Ryther Child Center League of Seattle.