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Louise Barrow

1910 - 2010, Santa Barbara

Louise Barrow died peacefully in her own bed in Santa Barbara, CA, on January 18, 2010, at the age of 99. She was born April 5, 1910, in Minneapolis, MN, to Lotta (Roosen), daughter of a prominent banker, and Gustav Bachman, a University of Minnesota professor. She grew up with a younger sister, Ruth (still going strong at 98), and brother, Charles Edgar (who died in 1990).

Louise attended the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and worked as a public health nurse during the Great Depression. She married William F. Barrow in 1935 and their daughters Carolyn and Elisabeth were born in 1937 and 1940, respectively. In 1948, Louise and a dear friend drove out to California with the two young girls to join Bill who was working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in San Luis Obispo. After a few years there, the family moved to Glendale where both girls attended high school.

Louise, who had given up her career as a nurse to raise her daughters, found work in the public schools and continued there until her retirement. In 1979, she was lured to Santa Barbara by the promise of a good Unitarian church. As a third generation Unitarian-Universalist, this was of great importance to her. Fortuitously, she and her husband had purchased a duplex close to the beach which was just waiting for her to move into. The following year she convinced her sister Ruth to join her and the two became a well known pair in social justice circles. Together they cooked meals for the homeless, volunteered at the polls on election days, picked up litter on the beaches, and generally did whatever they could to make the world a better place.

Louise was especially interested in politics and was a fixture at the League of Women Voters office for 19 years. She also volunteered at the Unicef Shop and was always willing to pitch in wherever she felt she could be useful. When she followed her sister to Vista Del Monte Retirement Community in 1998, she became known as the "Angel of Vista Del Monte" for her dedication to helping others. She volunteered in the VDM general store, gave daily wheelchair rides to those who had no one to push them, rubbed the backs of those who weren't feeling well, and never missed an opportunity to bestow kindness upon her fellow residents. Louise was honored for her community service by being chosen as a SB Independent Local Hero in 2002.

Louise was a role model to many of those who knew her. Her generosity, kindness, fortitude, and determination were legendary. Even when facing serious illness or the loss of both her daughters in less than three weeks time, she never faltered in her willingness to meet life head on. She was always humble and maintained her sense of humor and dedication to the well being of others to the very last hours of her life. How fortunate we all were to know and love such an exemplary human being.

Louise is survived by her sister, 7 grandchildren (and their spouses), 6 great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and their children and grandchildren.

Special thanks to Dr. Michael Bernstein, Dr. Mark Toscher, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care, her beloved friends at Vista, and especially the Petri family. We are so grateful for your love and support.

Gram, you will forever be an inspiration to us all.

A celebration of Louise's life will be held at Vista Del Monte in April in honor of what would have been her 100th birthday.

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