Barbara K. Spring

SpringBarbara K. Spring, 76, on June 11, 2019, at home in Voorheesville, N.Y., surrounded by her family. Barbara was born on March 17, 1943, the third child and only daughter of Leola and Robert Bayles, then of Colorado Springs, Colo. Growing up in many places, including camping for a year in Gallup, N.M., she reckoned that she had lived in 46 homes in her life and attributed her drive for community to her relatively unsettled childhood.

After high school at a Brethren in Christ academy in California, she went to college against her mother’s wishes, earning a bachelor’s in education and later a master’s in early childhood education from Indiana University Bloomington. In her late 20s, she moved with her husband to Zambia for two years of mission teaching with the Brethren in Christ church.

In about 1975, her family first attended Quaker meeting for worship at Harrisburg (Pa.) Meeting, becoming active members soon after. She moved with her family to Billings, Mont., in 1981 and joined Billings Meeting. In the early 1980s, she and other Friends started Montana Gathering of Friends (MGOF), under North Pacific Yearly Meeting. She moved to Missoula, Mont., in 1990 and joined Missoula Meeting, using her real estate training and experience to advise on the 1993 meetinghouse purchase. At 50 she earned a doctorate in gerontology from Union Institute (now Union Institute and University).

She liked teamwork and starting projects to pass along to others. Her work with Ira Byock on the Missoula Demonstration Project (now Life’s End Institute) resulted in Ira’s books Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life and The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living (the four things: “Please forgive me.” “I forgive you.” “Thank you.” and “I love you.”).

After her grandchildren were born, she moved to Albany, N.Y., in 2006 and transferred her membership to Albany Meeting. She nurtured two Seasons groups for support and perspectives on aging; traveled to Iran with the Fellowship of Reconciliation; and, with Anita Paul and help from Friends Foundation for the Aging (FFA), started a pilot that grew into New York Yearly Meeting’s Aging Resources Consultation and Help (ARCH). She and Anita started the ARCH Visitor program, to train Friends in appropriate services and spiritual listening.

The racially diverse Albany area opening her eyes to new aspects of racism, she joined Albany Meeting’s Friends for Racial Justice Committee, serving as its inspired clerk for many years in its Stories for Racial Justice and in planning the 2017 Building the Beloved Community: Beyond Racism conference with other faith organizations. She lobbied the legislature for racial justice; in 2017 formed a Gather at the Table book group that led to the local Coming to the Table group; served on Albany’s Grand Street Community Arts board, helping to create a low-power radio station serving a largely African American area; and participated in Macedonia Baptist Church’s rallies and initiatives.

Along with her community, she delighted in all God’s varied children, saying that her two years in Africa were some of the best years of her life, and a six-month round-the-world trip with a dear friend brought treasured memories. Seeing herself as a bridge, making connections and bringing people together, at the end of her life in her very small, very green house, she was trying to bring ARCH to people growing old in prison. She taught by example how to live into dying with verve and wisdom, often using the four end-of-life phrases, usually adding a fifth: “Goodbye.” Her memorial service, under the care of Albany Meeting, took place on September 14, 2019, at Delmar Presbyterian Church in Delmar, N.Y.

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