Barbara Ann Bennett Mays

MaysBarbara Ann Bennett Mays, 76, on September 13, 2020 (Grandparents’ Day), at Golden LivingCenter in Richmond, Ind. Barbara was an only child born February 13, 1944, to Pete and Esther Bennett (Irvington Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind.). Barbara was a member of Friends Memorial Church (Muncie, Ind.) in 1970–87; Clear Creek Meeting (Earlham College, Richmond) in 1987–98; and Whitewater Meeting (now First Friends Meeting, Richmond) beginning in 1998.

A natural Hoosier, Barbara held a fierce, quiet devotion to kindness, compassion, and equality. She strived for simplicity and personal integrity toward peace in her home and throughout the world. She could be found reading and journaling, teaching ballroom dance, making gifts for family and friends, and camping at the local reservoir. Barbara said she was proud of having raised three artists.

A teen advocate for independent research and expression, Barbara’s writing career began as editor of Howe Tower, the student newspaper for Thomas Carr Howe High School in Indianapolis. While studying journalism at Indiana University (bachelor’s, 1965), Barbara wrote and edited for the Indiana Daily Student. Barbara cofounded Friends Preschool Academy in Muncie while a full-time homemaker with three young children in the 1970s. Barbara joined and led weekly conversations (Women on Wednesday) at Friends Memorial Church. In January 1979, she hosted New York City radio program producer Phyllis Sanders for a three-day seminar on women’s leadership at Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond. For two years in the mid-1990s, Barbara turned to a focus on her own inner life while serving as resident staff at Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa.

Throughout her writing career, Barbara served as an administrator, teacher, and editor, primarily with Quaker publishers: editor with Friends United Press (FUP) 1981–88 and 1998–2005; fundraiser with United Way 1988–93; publications manager with Friends General Conference (FGC) 2006–10, member of Friends Publishing Board 1998–2001 and 2006–08. Barbara was a founding member in 1983 of Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP), an international, cross-branch organization. In addition to participating at QUIP annual meetings and on committees, Barbara served as QUIP co-clerk with Graham Garner (1999–2003). Barbara also taught in Earlham School of Religion’s Ministry of Writing emphasis (2001–09) and contributed to the evolution of the school’s writing program.

Barbara is remembered by her colleagues as joyful, gentle, steady, and supportive. Barbara “opened many doors” for theologian and folk singer Douglas Gwyn as editor of his first book, Apocalypse of the Word: The Life and Message of George Fox (1986, FUP). She also worked with Doug on Unmasking the Idols: A Journey among Friends (1989, FUP). While with FGC, Barbara was instrumental in the publication of Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship: Quakers, African Americans, and the Myth of Racial Justice by Donna McDaniel and Vanessa Julye (2009) and Black Fire: African American Quakers on Spirituality and Human Rights edited by Harold D. Weaver Jr., Paul Kriese, and Steven W. Angell (2011). Barbara also assisted young adult Friends on two QUIP young writer’s projects, Whispers of Faith (2005, FGC) and Spirit Rising (2010, FGC). Barbara’s hymns are published in Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal (1996, FGC).

Barbara is survived by three children, Jim Hollingsworth, John Hollingsworth, and Megan Hollingsworth; one grandchild; a stepbrother, Rick Parke; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

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