Ruth Jeanette Simmons Barber

Ruth completed her voyage through life on April 19, 2013 at age 92, in Federal Way, Washington. She leaves her husband John R. “Jack” Barber, daughters Janine Barber and Cindi Paris of Federal Way, grandsons John C. Paris and W. David Paris of Bellevue, and great-grandchildren Maya, Madison and Kai Paris of Bellevue.

A leader, organizer, respected matriarch and business woman, she was emulated by many. Born in Hartford, Connecticut February 11, 1921, Ruth was the middle child of the late Ray and Hesper Simmons. Ruth’s lifelong interest in the world around her culminated in many trips to exotic places and new international friends.

Called the “flower of the family” she met life’s problems with Yankee practicality and aplomb. Ruth was one who successfully defied setbacks and challenges with intelligence and dignity. A graduate of Cushing Academy and Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, she married Jack in 1942 at the outset of America’s entry into WW2. Defying expectations, the youthful couple’s marriage lasted

70 1/2 years!

During Jack’s Europe WW2 service, she was a metallurgist/chemist at nearby Pratt and Whitney’s East Hartford aircraft engine plant. After the war, two daughters arrived. Busy community life in Hartford County enabled Ruth to do public service such as Bloomfield’s Board of Education, politics, president of several womens’ clubs, and to attend school, ham radio and military reunions.

Amateur radio emergency services filled a need among the many (she held the FCC’s Extra Class call K1IIF). Their summer country home in cool East Hartland was a family favorite … Life was good.

Once the girls entered adulthood, Ruth in 1966 formed the town’s first travel agency, Barber Travel, Inc. and was its president for the next eighteen years. She found time for visits to the 50 United States, western Europe including the Soviet Union, India, Kenya, photo safari in Zambia, Iceland, arctic Svalbard, Norway; the Caribbean (especially Barbados where her “ham” call was 8P6EL, – “Easy Lady”, Australia, French Polynesia and so many more. A beloved trip was to

Chile’s Easter Island where she met its first radio ham there, hermit-like Father Dave. As a visiting “YL” or “Young Lady”, then a rarity in the hobby, she was hailed in Japanese and German and other radio journals.

Becoming Washington residents in 1984, so as to be near their descendants, the Barbers’ good life (and still more public service) lasted 25 years at Lacey’s Panorama retirement community, as well as happy times at their Summit Lake, Olympia, shore house.

Later, as a Federal Way area resident, she enjoyed its Community Center pool, and was a member of the Brown’s Point United Methodist Church in adjoining Tacoma.

Mills & Mills Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Tumwater

is handling the arrangements.

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