Barbara A. Barber

June 7, 1935 ~ May 28, 2022 (age 86) 86 Years Old


“I pray that risen from the dead, I may in Glory Stand
A crown perhaps upon my head, but a needle in my hand”

QUILTA’s favorite saying, and she made a quilt with her image reinforcing that very thought

Barbara Anne (Waite) Barber, for over 69 years the wife of Hiram W. (Bill) Barber, 3rd. Dunn’s Corner, Westerly, RI passed on 5/28/2022 the result of complications associated with Alzheimer’s. With thanks to her medical team, especially Dr. Mark Turshen, of Direct Doctors, Beacon Hospice, and her volunteer family team, she has been at home, with her family during her final days.

Barbara was the daughter of Helen (Kenyon, Coon) and James G. Waite, of Bradford, RI She grew up on the Waite Farm, in Bradford, graduated from the Bradford Elementary school, the Westerly high school, class of 1953, and completed her formal education at the University of Rhode Island. She especially remembered Westerly’s High School’s art teacher, Irene Warner, and the encouragement she provided. Barbara’s first opportunity to demonstrate her creative art came during that period when she accepted, an after school job, decorating the store-front windows of J. C. Penny’s then located on Canal Street. Her interest in antiques, artifacts and home decoration work started there, and never left her.

She leaves six children, daughters Deborah (Dr. Bernard) Keown, and Jo Anne (Stan) Soper, both of Ord, Nebraska, and Jennie Lou Barber, of Alameda, CA; and sons Stephen (Diane) of Preston, CT; Brian (Debi) of Grafton Ma, and Hiram W. Barber, IV of Lincoln, RI.
Also surviving is one sibling: James Loren Waite, of Hopkinton
13 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren
Many nieces and nephews
And former daughter-in-law Kerri Barber-DuFrene

Barbara was predeceased by her parents, her sister-in-law Gayle Arnold Waite; a step-brother Phillip Coon, and step-sister Connie Coon.

Barbara was the ultimate homemaker and was most comfortable as a stay-at-home mom.
Her vision inspired the transformation of a simple house into a warm and loving home where she could vault herself into a very gifted and recognized quilter. She had a particular ability to envision the atmosphere she wished to create, find the source of the materials she wished, and oversee their assembly, often using cast-off materials, adding antique finds, and designing and constructing her own additions, especially quilts

As the last of her children boarded the school bus, she focused much more of her attention on fabric art, and became a national and internationally recognized quilter. .
She and the late Janet Dobson formed a local quilt guild, the Ninigret Quilters, which recently celebrated its jubilee year.

Accepting challenges was always in her blood. Her quilt, “Hope” was selected to represent Rhode Island’s in the 1986 Great American Quilt Festival, a show that recognized the 100th year of the Statue of Liberty, her quilt, “Connecting Threads”, again represented Rhode Island in a similar competition two years later.

She organized and held her own retreats at the URI’s Alton Jones Campus for 30 years.
Barbara was instrumental in initiating, and was a key volunteer with the Rhode Island antique quilt search and documentation project, a work that resulted in the publication, in 2000: “Down by the Old Mill Stream”. Included in this document is Barbara’s quilt, “Tree of Life”, as an example of more contemporary work.

Her quilts ranged from simple, whimsical, ….
She was most creative and innovative is all of her activities, and took it upon herself to design and construct a Broderie-Perse quilt, a technique of making elegant piece at minimal cost, cutting specific sections from more expensive material, generally chintz, and embroidering it onto less costly fabrics. This was a technique that had become popular in the 18th century, but little information was available to guide Barbara at that time. So she figured out how to do it, documented her findings, and authored the resulting information into a book that the American Quilt Society published in 1997. At last report, this is still a reference for this type of work.

Attendance at quilt shows and workshops was always a part of the quilter’s program, the Vermont Quilt show held each summer was an annual event, at which both entries and workshops were involved. In 2000, she had an entire exhibit of her work, and curetted another. She, and her very close associate, the late Rose Koretski, introduced the “Sit and Quilt” tradition, whereby they invited any visitor at the show to add their stitches on a quilt they were working on. This became an annual benefit to the Habitat for Humanity program. When Rose and Barbara announced their retirement from this annual trek, Richard Cleveland, the managing director, personally and publicly recognized their contributions to the event.

In 2000, The Cranston Print Works, VIP division, asked Barbara to help them as they introduced new fabrics to the quilting world. This she did for nearly 10 years; As the newly created samples were sent to her, she not only created a design, constructed a sample quilt showcasing these new fabrics, then documented the process, whereby other quilters would be challenged to duplicated that particular quilt.

Barbara’s designed and constructed a wide variety of quilts during her career; elegant and very complex, simple, reverent, irreverent, whimsical. She became known among the judges, but usually with reservations. “Not her style, but work only she could do…..?”
Late in her career, a call from the Newport Restoration group was made to the quilting guilds for volunteers to restore the window valences in Doris Duke’s mansion, “Rough Point. She quickly accepted this challenge, qualified, and spent many enjoyable days in the mansion.

One of her last “experiments” was painting on fabric.
Bought fabric painting equipment and “experimented with quilts constructed using that technique. Results were very satisfying; she produced many quilts using that process. One of her most impressive is hanging in the office of the Westerly Armory, a port rail of all 18 of Rhode Island’s historical armories.

Barbara was a proud of the ancestry, a descendent of Rachel Langworthy, one of the founding members of the Newport RI SDB church, first of such in America. She accepted Christ in her youth and joined the rest of her family at the First SDB church in Hopkinton. She transferred her membership to Westerly at her marriage, where she served as a lifetime member and served in many capacities, including clerk, trustee, and deaconess.

For many years, she and Rose Koretski participated in the Vermont Quilt Festival in northern Vermont, not only by submitting juried pieces, but also as teachers and in workshop projects. In the 2000 session, Barbara held a retrospective of her work, and curetted a special display of Humorous Quilts. This pair also initiated the “Sit and Quilt” program to the benefit of Habitat for Humanity.

Barbara grew up a member of the Ashaway Seventh Day Baptist Church, and at marriage transferred to the Westerly SDB church, where she served in many capacities, including Deaconess, Clerk, Trustee, Bible teacher, worship leader. Always ready to be the reader at the Christmas vespers, and doing “Chalk talks”, adding pictures while reciting memorized Scripture. Always looking for more inspiring and Christ-like detail, she was a long-term member (partner) Malcolm Smith’s “Unconditional Love Fellowship”.

We’ll miss you Honey Girl

There are no calling hours.
A celebration of her life will be scheduled later. Please contact or see for details



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