Written by: Steve Babby, OKWU Board of Trustees Member
On April 4th, 2020, Barbara Babby passed peacefully from this world into heaven. This marks the end of a 10-year battle with early-onset Alzheimers. For 10 years, it has looked like she was on the losing end of that battle, but today she won. Barbara is now whole and celebrating with her Savior.
Barbara grew up in Kentucky; if you needed confirmation, all you had to do was talk to her. She held on to her accent, her love of horses, and her southern roots her entire life. Her father worked as a seminary professor at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and she and her brother Jimmy grew up around incredible theologians and thinkers. This upbringing taught her to value education, as well as a good debate!
When she was 21, Barbara met Steve Babby, a new student at Asbury Seminary. They were engaged 3 months after they met, and were married for 51 years. After their wedding, they lived in Wilmore while Steve finished his degree and Barbara taught Middle School English. Barbara was a natural when it came to teaching. She had a gift for writing, and her passion for making life fun made her a favorite with her students.
Upon graduation from Asbury Seminary, Steve and Barbara moved to San Diego, where Steve joined the pastoral staff at his home church, Skyline Wesleyan Church. For 51 years, Barbara served alongside Steve at Skyline (7 years full-time and 23 years part-time). She stood by him 39 years when he served as full-time District Superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Wesleyan District. Because Steve’s job involved being at different churches most Sundays, Barbara (and their girls, Robin and Laurel) often traveled together and entertained the pastor’s families and congregations. Where Steve could explain the budgets and encourage the pastors, Barbara found a spot for herself building relationships and supporting the pastors’ families.
Over the years, Barbara taught Spanish at Spring Valley Junior High, was a substitute teacher, and also supervised student teachers for San Diego State University. Barbara would often laugh at the Kentucky accented Spanish that she taught so many middle schoolers.
Barbara was an active member of Skyline Church for over 50 years – volunteering in many ministries, being a Sunday school teacher, and mentoring countless young women. She also enjoyed speaking at special events and retreats. Her incredible writing and editing skills allowed her to edit books for authors and many newsletters and talks for Steve. Once, when she complained to him of his “horrible newsletter,” Steve responded, “I know, but I also know that whatever I write, you will rewrite anyway.” This was the truth.
While the girls were growing up, Barbara stayed at home and devoted herself to raising them. She was very careful to raise Robin and Laurel to understand their faith. While Steve traveled frequently for work, she stabilized life at home.
The girls remember, in high school, having an older lady from the church over for breakfast. Barbara prayed over the food and that the group would all “have fun all day long.” The guest laughed and said they’d never heard anyone pray for fun. The girls smiled, because they had never NOT heard that prayer from their mom.
That story tells so much about Barbara. She made every event more exciting. And she loved a good story… especially if she was telling it.
Every morning started the same way. Barbara would sit in bed (with the coffee and donut or toast Steve brought her) reading her Bible and Oswald Chambers, and journaling for about an hour.
Barbara’s sassy, southern roots showed up in her accent and her Southern style. She always looked pulled together! You needed to be dressed to leave the house… none of this nonsense with sweatpants. And, of course, her favorite advice: “For the love of all things, girls, put some lipstick on. You never know who you’ll see.” This was her approach to life: be ready for anything and pull it together!
Barbara was game for most anything – smiling, laughing, and keeping people talking. Barbara was an excellent artist and painter, but Steve and Barbara’s favorite hobby was traveling. They traveled to over 40 countries for pleasure and ministry, and were particularly at home in Italy and France. They also attended many Padre games together, although Steve learned the hard way one year never to plan to attend Opening Day on their anniversary again.
Barbara loved being a grandmother and was adored by her grandchildren. She had seven grandchildren: Grant, Brady, Kate and Jack Small; and Noelle, Trevor and Claire Nicol. When the first grandchild was born, Barbara designed a bracelet to wear that held a different charm for each family member with their name on the front and the Bible verse she prayed over them engraved on the back. Robin and Laurel have those charms to wear and use them to pray over their families – just as their mother modeled.
We will all miss laughing with Barbara. She knew how to keep life fun and irreverent in the very best ways.
Because of the COVID-19 virus, the memorial service will be delayed until the summer months.