"Bringing Art to the People and People to the Arts"


In Memory of Betsy Barker

On View in the Classroom Gallery at Blue Ridge Arts Center
July 19 – August 28, 2021

Elizabeth Ann (Betsy) Barker

Betsy was born June 6, 1949 in Hubbard, IA to Dr WJ and Marilyn Mack. She moved to and grew up in Garner, IA with her brother Bill and sister Mary.

She met Doug Barker at Iowa State University in Ames, IA and they were married in 1969. She graduated in 1971 with a BA in Elementary Art Education.

She and Doug raised two daughters. Jennifer is a PhD professor of film studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. Erin has an MS in English and is married to Ryan Sumpter and lives in San Antonio, TX, where she works from home as the curriculum designer for Sylvan Learning Centers based in Baltimore, MD.

Betsy moved to Newark, OH in 1971 when Doug went to work as an engineer for Owens Corning Fiberglass. She subsequently moved (and became a true expert at moving) to Toledo, OH; Kansas City, KS; Barrington, NJ; Valparaiso, IN; Toledo, OH; Seoul, South Korea; Brussels, Belgium; Napa, CA; and lastly to New Albany, OH. She taught elementary art in several of these locations including in South Korea.

In 1998, while living in Belgium, she began to exhibit symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in 2003.

She retired with Doug when took early retirement from Owens Corning. They moved to The Reserve at Lake Keowee in 2007 and built a large two-room painting studio in the bonus room of a house on the lake. Betsy was a prolific painter in watercolor, pastel, and acrylic in the ensuing 13 years and painted, gave away and sold some 160+ paintings. She loved to paint animals, especially dogs and cows. She painted many of the Reserve resident’s dogs for them. By her own admission, she was just a girl who loved cows!

People don’t die of Multiple Sclerosis. They die because of the symptoms of the disease. Betsy stayed home during the recent viral pandemic, because of a very compromised immune system. Then, of all things, she ate a raw vegetable and contracted a bacterium that rapidly ballooned into spinal meningitis (rare). She passed away 4 days later on August 20, 2020. She was never in any pain.

She would have liked that I had a silent auction for 63 of her paintings and sold 49 of them at the event with the proceeds benefiting the Reserve Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She would have liked I have endowed a new pastel prize for the Blue Ridge Art Center’s Annual Members’ Show for 10 years and will also be funding the purchase of pastel art supplies for 10 years in her name. I also donated some 80+ art education books to BRAC. All in remembrance of Betsy Barker. She loved the folks at BRAC.

Someone said, “When love is all you have left – just keep giving it away.” It’s good advice.

~ Doug Barker

We hope you enjoy a few of the wonderful work Betsy created and shared with us.

"Little Lamb" by Betsy Barker

Image 1 of 10

Pastel, 201