Barbara Gloria Wilson 1928 - 2021

Last year, on August 14, 2021, Barbara Gloria Wilson passed away.

She was friend, mentor and mother to me and my sister, Bonnie.

Mom began her life on the tenth of March 1928, in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, making her 93 ½ years old upon her departure.
She attended PS 148, frequented the 1939 World's Fair, and watched Depression-era, horse-drawn wagon hucksters shout, “Rags, bags, Singer sewing machines!”

When she was 15, her family moved to Santa Barbara, California, and as she told us many times, “When I found out we were moving to California, I was so upset. I didn’t want to leave New York City and all my friends. But after being in beautiful, sunny Santa Barbara for two days, if someone had asked me about New York, I would’ve replied, ‘New York? Where’s that?’” Despite her leaving New York, New York never left her. Till her dying day, she still had to have her “cuppa cawfee” every morning.

Santa Barbara was one of two geographic loves of her life, the other being the farm near Bethel, Oregon, where our family moved in 1969. It would become her home for the rest of her life.

Mom’s great passions were creating art, taking road trips, collecting antiques, planting gardens and eating doughnuts. As an infant, I was brought to pioneer dumps in a bassinet and Bonnie had to ride the school bus to odd locations, so Mom and her girlfriends could dig for treasures, and our home was filled with them. Most of her booty consisted of hundreds and hundreds of old bottles, but she also rescued old books, maps, clocks, tables, chairs and other furnishings from abandoned farmhouses for decades.

In 1974, Mom and Dad separated. Without any true marketable skills, but with a surplus of courage and pragmatism, she took a job as a teller with US Bank in Amity. Her starting wage was a whopping $2.10 per hour, and 20 years later, upon her retirement, she was still only making less than ten bucks. And yet, she not only made the proverbial “ends” meet but also managed to regularly squirrel away small amounts of money for investing in the stock market.

Mom read the business section of the local paper and invested in Northwest stocks. It just so happened those “local” companies included Nike, Starbucks, Hewlitt-Packard, Intel, Amazon and Microsoft, making her the quintessential example of how anyone can become wealthy: invest regularly in solid companies, and allow those investments to grow for decades.

I don’t think Mom ever met a potted plant she didn’t want to adopt. Visits to nurseries were frequent and bountiful. The flora surrounding her home proved it, with flowerbeds vast and varied.

Self-deprecating humor, comic cluelessness, and perfectly timed curses were her stock-in-trade. Mom would tell stories of her epic foibles, follies, and f***ups until tears ran down listeners’ faces. She was equal parts Lucille Ball, Edith Bunker and Phyllis Diller.

Known as Gma to her four grandkids and their myriad friends, GGma to her two great-granddaughters, and Barbara G. to friends far and wide, her funny, feisty, courageous, curious, compassionate, disciplined, irreverent, opinionated, principled, generous, frugal, humble, outlandish and long – but nevertheless, not long enough – life will be mourned and celebrated at 11 a.m. Sunday, August 14, at the farm.

If you would like to attend, please email us at bretthwilson@gmail.com. We would love to share your company and for you to share your Barbara tales.

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