Barbara Ann Reed of Eugene, Oregon died with her husband by her side, Sept. 9 of complications of lung cancer. She maintained a smile and sense of humor throughout the length of the disease. Surprised over the avalanche of cards arriving during her illness she said, “Somehow I’ve been turned into a god”. Barbara was 56.
Barb came into the world on September 14, 1955 joining her brother David, father Mann and mother Evelyn in Denver, CO. The family moved to Marion, Mass where Barb graduated from area schools, and was the first girl to take welding class and win the “Industrial Arts Award”.
She worked training horses in Maryland and Rhode Island before studying at UMass Amherst and then U of California Davis where she got her bachelors and masters degrees in Animal Science. After graduating she was hired to manage the goat research facility at the university.
She eventually began a career as a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, specializing in dairy cows and forage, first in Merced County and then Butte/Tehama Counties. As a teacher and mentor she also traveled to Kenya, Bolivia and Ireland to advise farmers through the agency VOCA. She capped off her career with the publication of the book Farmstead and Artisan Cheeses, which was lauded as a go-to guide to artisan cheese production.
Barb left Extension in 2007 and following a life long passion, enrolled into a masters of Architecture program at the University of Oregon. She graduated with a 4.0+ average in 2010 and was entertaining job offers in historic preservation when diagnosed with cancer.
Barb fit many adventures into her life including moving across country with only her beloved dog Molly Brown, fighting forest fires with a hotshot crew one summer and marrying a Gemini. She had a courageous spirit that many have praised, fearful of very little except spiders and heights. Her first white-knuckled trip on a ferris wheel was at age 52 but she volunteered to crew for a stranger sailing around the world for the leg from San Francisco to Tahiti at 26.
She loved the Red Sox and the A’s, sewed quilts for countless babies, swam masters competitions, was an extra base threat for the Chippers softball squad, played a sound game of tennis, enjoyed traveling, could swing a hammer, hiked Brokeoff mountain numerous times, persuaded friends to install smoke alarms in their homes, baked an incredible strawberry- rhubarb crisp, designed beautiful gardens and trained many dogs.
She taught her husband, Tom, the pleasures found in drinking single malt scotch, sewed her own wedding dress, help found the Avenues Assoc of Chico, could only last 20 minutes browsing a bookstore, was a driving force behind Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build project, loved The Simpsons, measured twice and cut once, beat Tom regularly at scrabble and
chess, always bet it all in Final Jeopardy and was astute about many things from politics and buying insurance to building a fire and identifying birds in the field.
She was preceded in death by her mother Evelyn. She is remembered by her husband Tom Spofford, father Mann Reed and his wife Pat, of Atlanta, GA; aunt Fay Graham, of West Palm Beach, FL; brother David and sister-in-law Linda, of Concord NH; sister Lena and brother-in-law David, of St Louis; sister Trish, of Atlanta; nieces Kristin, Melissa and Allison and of course her chocolate lab Wren. The Spofford family, including mother-in-law Nancy Spofford, of Wenham, MA, will all miss “The Peach” dearly.
A celebration of her life will be held in Eugene on October 20 where toasting will be encouraged and stories shared. A similar gathering will be held in Massachusetts, in the spring, when the lilacs are in bloom. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to your local Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, Public Broadcasting, or your local animal shelter. In Barb’s memory, watch the bats come out at dusk, right the wrongs and always take great chances.