Longtime Ripon resident and community supporter, Barbara Feichtmeir, died peacefully at her home on August 24, 2015 at the age of 94, following a stroke and brief hospitalization. Barbara was born in Berkeley, California and attended Oakland public schools. Her artistic talents were recognized when she was still very young and encouraged by parents and teachers. Barbara’s deep appreciation for the natural world was nurtured by her parents. She often reminisced about camping with family and friends in Yosemite every summer, an experience she later shared with her own children. When she was 12 years old Barbara was selected to be in the Oakland Adolescent Study, a UC Berkeley human development research project that generated important longitudinal data for the field while providing memorable social experiences for the teen participants. She continued to participate in the University’s academic research for more than eighty years. An accomplished young musician, she performed in youth orchestras, choral groups, and as a piano accompanist. The vocal trio she formed in high school went on to sing professionally with a dance band that broadcast live from the Lake Merritt Hotel. Upon high school graduation Barbara studied and pursued a career in commercial art, working for Hale Brothers department store in downtown Oakland, at a time when hand-drawn illustrations were the norm for newspaper advertisements.
Barbara met her future husband, Edmund Feichtmeir, at a Friday night dance near the UC Berkeley campus where he was completing a doctoral degree. The couple married shortly after Ed enlisted as a naval officer. Following WW II, they settled in Ripon with their young children Wendi and Kurt. Ed’s career with Shell Development took the family to White Plains, NY and Denver, Colorado, where daughter Janis and son Kris were born. In 1957 the Feichtmeirs returned to Ripon where Barbara resided for more than 50 years.
In addition to raising four children, managing the household on Linda Avenue, and being the steadfast partner to her husband of 63 years, Barbara was very active in Ripon civic life. Her community service included official duties as wife of Ripon’s Mayor for 20 years and volunteering for countless projects and initiatives to create opportunities for society’s less fortunate. When she was honored as Woman of the Year by the Lambda Psi sorority in 1987, Barbara said, “Life has been very good to me – simulating, challenging, and fulfilling. It’s important, I feel, to put something back into a life that’s given me so much, and volunteering where there is a need is one way I can do it.” She was an enthusiastic supporter of local performing arts and arts education organizations and an advocate for integrating the arts into community life. Barbara was a gracious hostess and loved parties. Dancing with Ed remained a source of joy throughout their marriage.
Barbara enrolled in a variety of adult education classes at Modesto Junior College and produced many paintings that are treasured by her family and friends. At the 2015 Ripon Almond Blossom Festival art show she was honored as a featured artist.
Extensive international travel with her husband to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia expanded Barbara’s horizons. Vivid recollections from her travels – the landscapes, wildlife, cities, gardens, and people she encountered – were a source of delight and inspiration.
Barbara is survived by her children, Wendi Lancaster and her husband Don Lancaster of Alturas, CA; Kurt Feichtmeir and his partner Gerald Reis of Yorkville, CA; Janis Feichtmeir and her wife Angela Zaragoza of San Francisco; and Kris Feichtmeir and his wife Diane of Ripon. Barbara also leaves a younger generation of grandchildren, great grandchildren, and extended-family loved ones.
Barbara will be remembered for her generous spirit, her love of nature, her creative sensibility, her loyalty, and her determination.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to Friends of the Ripon Memorial Library, the Ripon Senior Center, or the Ripon High School Music Department. A celebration of Barbara’s life will be held at Spring Creek Golf and Country Club on Sunday, October 25 at 3:00 pm.
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Monday, August 31, 2015