Remembrances of Betty Barker

Photo by Erin Long Photography

Our dear friend Betty Barker passed away this January. Betty and her late husband Charles were among CFWM’s earliest volunteers and most impactful donors.

Betty wouldn’t have wanted the spotlight on her, but she touched so many in our community that we wanted to honor her through remembrances.

The very first thing you’ll hear when you ask anyone about Betty is that she was incredibly warm and genuine. A truly special person. “What I loved most about her was that she was the most natural person. So comfortable in her own skin. You always felt at ease with her,” said Scottie Faerber. When Betty spoke to you, she was totally focused. “You always felt that she had endless amounts of time for you.” And as everyone will tell you, Betty gave the best hugs. She was quick-witted and funny, and her sparkling eyes were always ready to laugh.

Less well known was her generosity. She lived modestly but gave effusively. She was very private and quiet in her giving. “She never talked about it. She was never seeking praise or recognition,” reflected Bruce Brown. With Charles, she had a deep sense of belonging to their community. Her first thought was to help those in her beloved Franklin County. “She did so much good for Franklin County over so many years and was the best ambassador there could be for the Community Foundation,” said Betsy Belden.

Betty was among the early team of volunteers who helped CFWM review grant proposals from nonprofits. “She loved the visits to nonprofits. We saw how committed, intelligent, and determined the staff were, and we discovered needs we hadn’t known about,” said Bruce. Betty would frequently ask, “What do you need?” It embodied her humility to not assume anything. With those words she communicated her respect and desire to help.

Betty gave her time because she wanted to help, but also because she got so much out of it. She wanted to know what was happening in her community. She wanted to learn. “Betty always would ask what’s going on. She was always interested. Both she and Charles were excited to hear about everything,” said Scottie.

And of course, Betty was smart and practical. Kent Faerber commented, “Nothing passed her by. She was no fool.” “She was quite opinionated,” added Bruce. “She’d say to the Distribution Committee, ‘We really have to support this project.’” Nancy Reiche shared that Betty could have taught “a master class in common sense and pragmatism” but, “instead, she conveyed her wisdom through her words and deeds.”

As a volunteer, “Betty would dig deeper in interviews to determine the rationales behind funding requests and pose questions to other volunteers,” described Nancy. She was “interested in the concrete and tangible. Things that would clearly benefit the community,” said Sheila Toto.

She was deeply appreciative of family. Scottie observed, “She felt fortunate to end up with what they had. She was so grateful for her life with Charles and Ann, her daughter. She loved talking about them. She just adored Charles. After Charles was gone, she would frequently mention that Ann made a point of coming for lunch every day. It meant the world to her.”

That sense of community extended to CFWM. “Betty and Charles both treated CFWM like family. They just loved coming down to the Foundation,” continued Kent. Bruce added, “We felt privileged to represent the Foundation.”

The relationships she formed with fellow volunteers lasted long past her tenure on the CFWM Distribution Committee. “We worked hard together. And after our 9-year ordeal (on the Distribution Committee) we finally got to play!” mentioned Angela Wright. So a group of members, including Betty and Charles continued to get together regularly “strictly for laughs. We had a lot of fun” she said.

Betty has left a tremendous impact on those she touched. Many may never know that she was the source of support that provided their scholarship, funded much needed meals, or strengthened their local institutions. But for those who knew her, Betty Barker won’t be forgotten.

“In any lifetime, if you’re lucky, you run across people you remember forever. Betty was someone you felt like you’d known your whole life,” expressed Angela. Scottie spoke for us all, adding, “I’m so grateful to have known her. We miss her.”

Our thanks to those who shared their memories with us:

Betsy Belden
Bruce Brown
Kent and Scottie Faerber
Nancy Reiche
Sheila Toto
Angela Wright