Frances Barber

Obituary of Frances Joan Barber

Frances Joan Barber, the matriarch of the Barber family, died peacefully March 27, 2023, at the home of her son, Marc, and daughter-in-law, Polly Barber. She lived with them for over 36 years. She was invited into their home after her divorce from Albert. During those years, she was able to continue moving to other cities, which she always enjoyed.


During the course of her life, Joan moved over 40 times. The first of many moves occurred after the deadly 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake. Her parents relocated to Longview, Washington, before making another move to Chehalis, Washington. It was here she met Albert Barber and both graduated from W. F. West High School in 1942. They married the following year.


Three children were born of their relationship. The eldest, Terry, was born in Chehalis just as World War II was overtaking the lives of so many. Linda was born in Denver, Colorado, as Albert entered the Colorado School of Mines as a student. Marc was born in Tachikawa, Japan, when the family was allowed to live overseas while Albert served as a navigator in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean Conflict. Many more moves followed. Joan loved the adventure of packing, moving, and redecorating.  She enjoyed the adventure of living in a new city.


For most of her life, Joan was a housewife and mother. Her home was her castle. She relished family life and all the things that went with it, especially caring for her family. Her children could have sworn she had been in the service as a drill sergeant for the exacting ways she wanted the house cleaned. There was to be no company or leaving the house Saturday morning until all chores were done. End of discussion!


Living through the Great Depression was a profound experience for Joan. As a young girl, she saw how her parents had to cope with so much uncertainty and it affected her greatly. Another profound experience occurred in 1970, while living in Lubbock, Texas, when a tornado ripped through the city. For days, the family did not know if Joan was dead or alive since power had been cut off.


Joan was able to continue her itinerant lifestyle after moving in with Marc, Polly, and their two boys. Marc’s career as a government employee took the family overseas and finally to Virginia before they returned to Washington state.


Joan’s conversion to the Catholic faith was a pivotal moment in her life. She became a devoted daughter of Mother Church. Praying and reading the Magnificat provided her great comfort. At various times, in her service to parishes, she served as president of the Altar Society and taught CCD at St. John Mission in Montesano. She became a member of St. Margaret’s Guild and the Rosary Making Group at Sacred Heart in Lacey.


Joan was thrilled to have been able to see Pope St. John Paul II while living in Paraguay. She did not care how long she had to stand in a driving rainstorm. Her feet were planted until the Pope’s vehicle passed. Part of the family’s Lenten tradition was to kneel after Friday night dinner and pray the rosary in front of Mary’s statue. Once again, there was no playing indoors or outside until the rosary was finished. And again, end of discussion!


The Barber family is grateful to God for her long life. They feel blessed to have so many memories of her and thank her for her many contributions to family life. May she rest in peace.


Joan’s parents, John and Goldie Gibbs (Morrison), and sister, Phyllis Chilton, preceded her in death. She is survived by her three children, Terry (Patricia) Barber of Olympia, Linda (Michael) Gilbert of Yuma, Arizona, and Marc (Polly) Barber of Lacey. She also leaves six grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, seven great-great-grandchildren, as well as two nieces and a nephew.


The Barber family is grateful to Alyssa Kellerman of Visiting Angels and the dedicated nurses and staff of Assured Home Hospice for their compassionate, dedicated service, and helpful assistance in Joan’s final days and hours. Thanks also to Funeral Alternatives for their gracious assistance during this time of loss. They were all a great comfort for the family as they helped during that time.


On Monday, April 24, 2023, at 10:30 a.m., a funeral Mass will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 812 Bowker St. SE, Lacey, WA 98503. A reception by the good people of St. Joseph’s Guild will follow in Hallen Hall. Her inurnment will take place at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Tumwater that afternoon.


Joan was a generous donor to many causes. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to your favorite charitable organization in her name.


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