1946 – 2018 Obituary Condolences Gallery
A memory from Carolyn Chalmers ’68I was Barbie’s roommate at Carleton in 1965-66, our sophomore year. She was known as Barbie then. In the mid-60’s, as a nineteen year old, Barbie was arty and very cool. She was sophisticated–studying modern dance and French. She was physically beautiful and emotionally vibrant, as she remained throughout her life.We lived on second Gridley, an old wooden building just off the bald spot on the women’s side of campus. On the stroke of six, the ‘house mother’ would lead the women residents down to the dining room in the basement of Gridley where we would all sit down for supper at the same time. The men’s dorms were on the other side of the bald spot. Men could only come into our dorm on Sunday afternoon—and our dorm room doors had to be open.Barbie and I were generally good girls. But as this anecdote illustrates, we were capable of bad judgment that got us into trouble. Or at least I was. I wanted to learn how to smoke cigarettes. She knew how to smoke and agreed to teach me. In Gridley, smoking was only permitted in one room on the second floor– the smoking lounge. I didn’t want my lessons to be observed so we decided to practice smoking in our room. At Christmas break, when the cleaning staff found an ashtray we had left under our bed, we were busted. We had to go to a student-run hearing where we were lectured by peers whom we knew were more rebellious than we. Our punishment was social probation for a year (not academic probation, because in academics we were smarter). Barbie went to France the next year and I stayed behind and minded my ps and qs. Happily we graduated in good academic and social standing, both having wised up to the risk of inadvertently burning down Gridley.Fast forward nearly 50 years. It was our 45th reunion at Carleton, 2013. I had talked to Barbara about coming and she decided to. It was the first reunion she attended: classmates were very glad to see her. They asked her to do a program for the class on her life since Carleton and she agreed. It was a wonderful show. She used dance and music to demonstrate how she taught science curriculum to children. She got 20 of us up in front—half moving about the room to demonstrate blood flowing out of the heart and half moving throughout the room as the blood coming back to the heart. Then she choreographed a similar demonstration for the synapses in the brain. We were miming electricity. It was simple but brilliant. She talked of bringing Victor to the 50th reunion so he could share this part of her life. Unfortunately, she was too sick.Barbara’s vitality, resilience and love for Victor and family are my clearest memories from our last visit.