Birth Place: Falls Creek, Pennsylvania
Years in Florida: Over 50
Home Church: Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
Marital status: widowed; married 50 years
Children/Grandchildren: 3 sons and 6 grandsons [no girls!]
First job: Printing Company
Favorite movie: Gone With The Wind
What do you like to read: The Bible, Newspapers, and US World and News Report.
Musical preference: I like music of the 60s, 70s and 80s and Orchestra music, and I also like clssical music.
Favorite teams: Dolphins, Hurricanes and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mountains or beaches: Mountains
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard: Air Force
Q: Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Everybody was very honest, fair and friendly. The Presbyterian Church was across the street from our house, and I got up every Sunday and went to church whether anybody else did or not. I guess the Lord was leading me. I didn’t know much about Current Events because there wasn’t a lot going on in our community. So I was raised in a very nice, friendly area and got very weary of small town life.
Q: Do you have a favorite sport or hobby?
I used to play tennis and golf, I loved to water ski and things like that but then I had to stop when Bob [her husband] got sick. I don’t play any sports right now.
Q: Who has most shaped you as a leader – your mother or your father? Why?
My mother – she was very laid-back and shy because of being a small town, but I was just encouraged to be honest and fair, dress properly and to be polite. I had the basic understanding of honesty and consideration for people. I think that is what helped me to move ahead. My family didn’t have any glorious goals of getting ahead because they came from a small town and didn’t know anybody that was important or elected. But they taught me the basics, and I think that is more important than anything else.
Q: Recently, your husband of 50 years, Bob, went home to be with the Lord. Where and how did you meet your husband?
Well, my husband lived in a small town in Pennsylvania and he had an opportunity to come to Miami and work for Burdines. His mother and father owned a department store, so he came down to Burdines and started in their carpet department. Once he went home, he was having dinner with some friends and one of the friends said, “When you get back to Fort Lauderdale, call my cousin up and take her out to dinner.” So Bob called me and we went out to dinner, and I guess it was nice to know somebody from where you were from and understand them. So after dating for several years, we got married.
Q: What was your motivation to become a political activist and community organizer?
A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be on the [Broward] Republican Executive Committee, and I really didn’t know what that was, so I started going to some of the monthly Republican meetings. And then Andrew Crenshaw was running for office and he was the first candidate that I helped. And then I began to realize that when you want to help a candidate you need to start out by encouraging your friends and neighbors to register to vote, and then you need to get your friends and neighbors to pass out literature on your candidate and they need to have a fundraiser for your candidate if possible. And I would write a letter in my precinct explaining who I was voting for in each election and asking them to please vote for these candidates or call me if they had any questions, and that is how I got started in the grassroots part. Because, I mean, you can work for all these candidates and work very hard, but if they don’t get elected you begin to get discouraged. And I started with local candidates, and then after a few years I started with the state and national. I worked my way up, and I think that is important because too many people have never helped a candidate and all of a sudden they are working for a president or something like that and they don’t understand the basics of how you get your people mobilized. I think one of the most important things for us to do is to make sure our friends and neighbors are registered to vote and that their cards are up to date.
Q: Share a time where your faith was challenged as a political activist [or in other leadership positions]?
That is a good question because I love being a Christian in the political realm because I know how I feel and I don’t back down on my beliefs but I don’t press it upon other. It is just that they know that the decision that I am going to make is going to be on Biblical principles. And I love the challenge, and I wish more Christians would stand up and speak out about their faith and not to be angry or nasty, but just express what they believe in and move on.
Q: You’ve worked on countless campaigns? Is there one campaign that was your favorite?
I really liked working on Jeb Bush’s campaign. He was easy to work for. He was nice, and the people that he had working on his campaign were friendly and easy to work for and he had campaign offices in areas so that you didn’t have to drive all around the state to get to an office to volunteer. I can’t think of a candidate that I worked for that I didn’t like. I mean, if it was somebody that I didn’t really care for, I let them get somebody else to help them. I loved all my candidates.
Q: Is there a person in American history that you truly admire, or are fascinated by, and why?
Interesting you said that because I was listening to a home-school mother reading a book on history to her son and it was about George Washington, and when she read it it gave me great recall because I had forgotten about how George Washington had his soldiers marching in their bare feet to protect our country and how he even had a second force of men that were barely dressed that came forth, making the British run because they saw the strength of George Washington and his troops, and I thought everybody should know about this man.
Q: Is there one accomplishment in your public service that you’d like to tell us about?
When I was in the Republican Party, the chairman of the party asked me to run for office with him, and I was very reluctant and I said no I wasn’t interested, thank you. So he said, “Can I meet with you and your husband and talk with you about running with me for office?” and so we met together and I said all right. I think I will run for co-chairman with you, and that was Lou Keller that was running [for chairman]. So in December we were installed in as chairman and co-chairman, and I would go down a couple days a week and help in the office and answer the phone, mail letters and things. And that was the year when Bob Dole, Lamar Alexander and George Bush came to town, and they said, Barbara, you’ve got to have a dinner for them. You have to have a reception for them. And I got to meet all these wonderful people and I got to know the people in the party, and they were so helpful. And that is how I really got started, and I really liked what I was doing. It was a great opportunity.
Q: What is the greatest political challenge that we face today?
Taking back America. We are running such high debts that our children and grandchildren will be paying them off for the rest of their life. We need to stop this. We need to stop spending. We need to get people to work and support themselves and not see what they can have for free. I think we all need to be responsible. It’s time that we take back America and we need to take back our Senate, our House and our presidential seat. Then we need to have good people appointed as judges and in positions of authority.