Standing alongside her husband Ed who was Ripon’s Mayor for 35 years in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s was a bubbly Barbara Feichtmeir who served as the unofficial “first lady” of the community during a time when the population was around 2,000 people.
She passed away Monday at 94.
Barbara was always there at Ed’s side when he was representing the city from social events to the first golf competition with Ripon in England that continues today with teams from the two Ripons competing in both countries. Barbara and Ed were the congenial hosts to the Lord Mayor of Ripon England when his Mace Bearer and golf team arrived to take part in one of the early tournaments and coinciding Almond Blossom Festival.
Barbara penned a hard cover memoir entitled, “As I Recall” that covers her life and that of her family members through her own eyes.
` “As I sit down writing this memoir, I’m not sure anyone will be interested in reading this, but I know I’ll enjoy reminiscing and reliving the old memories, so here goes,” she wrote.
Ed was a chemical engineer for the Shell Development Corporation lab in Salida on the other side of the Stanislaus River where he was a serious bridge player with his work peers during lunch. Barbara learned to play the game alongside her husband – although not said to be quite as passionate about the game. They both enjoyed the social game with friends at Ripon homes – such as that of Joe and Ann O’Leary who was Ripon’s longtime superintendent of schools.
Ripon Fire Chief Dennis Bitters Friday morning remembered Barbara from when he was just a young boy living in the community with his family.
“She was one of the sweetest ladies I knew. She always had kind words to say – really a sweet lady,” Bitters said.
Helen Cataeno who operated a small gift shop across from Ripon Elementary School downtown remembers Barbara as a very involved member of the community.
“She was the heart of the community, back in the day,” Cataeno said. “From the PTA to the Covenant Church to the Lions’ Club, they both accomplished a lot in this town.”
Barbara was always in the fore to do all she could to make a positive difference in the community supported by the friendships of untold numbers in the community.
Ann and Joe O’Leary were also saddened with her passing.
“She was wonderfully artistic,” Ann O’Leary noted. “We were good friends and went wine tasting with them. We visited with her just several weeks ago and she was very sharp with everything considered.”
Several of her paintings appear on the back pages of her book that is available in the Ripon Museum on Main Street.
Barbara and Ed played couples’ bridge games with friends in their homes for many years – always gracious and she was never heard to get upset with anyone, she added.
They had four children Wendi, Kris, Janis and Kurt.
A celebration of life is planned for Oct. 26 at Spring Creek Country Club.