Barbara Joan Story
Barbara Joan Story, 70, of Santa Barbara passed away on Wednesday, September 24, 2008, after a brief illness, with her husband and daughters by her side, holding her close. She was an amazing wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, cousin and aunt: but above all else, she was our best friend. She was absolutely gorgeous! She was about to turn 71, but her face and her spirit screamed 45-tops. Quite a feat considering she had 7 children, 10 grand-children, and a bevy of great-grandchildren. When asked what it was like being in a home with 7 kids, Barb would respond: “Like being a nurse in an emergency room!” Having worked as an emergency room nurse at Cottage hospital for years, who would know better.
Her laughter and smile were infectious-her voice, like a song. Oh, how we’ll miss that voice! She loved to laugh about her Lucy Ricardo-style antics. Whether it was the failed diet of the week due to Cheezits, or her infamous sewing pile (clothes went in but never came out) or her procrastination with the letters she had to write (she’d finally give up, make a Tanqueray martini or two and just call the dang person). By the way, if you actually ever got a letter from Barb, bronze it! People adored Barb, and she couldn’t get enough of them. You could even say that people were her favorite thing. She wanted to get to know everyone who crossed her path. This used to frustrate her impatient children, until the new-found stranger started handing out Hershey bars. “Our mom is the best!” Barb was renowned for knowing everyone’s first and last name. She was a walking Who’s Who. She greeted everyone with a big smile and a hug. She could be seen chatting with everyone from the high society types to the garbage men, gardeners, and the vacuum repair guy (she was extremely fond of vacuums and had quite an eclectic collection: new, used, parts and pieces). She truly enjoyed listening to what others had to say. She knew everyone had a story, and each was equally valuable. She believed in the underlying worth of all. Status and ranking had little effect on her. She was so warm and disarming, you always felt at ease with her, whether you had just met or were life-long friends. It wasn’t uncommon to see some of the most tightly wound people throwing their heads back in laughter and breaking into song after only a few moments chatting with Barb. People always walked away from her feeling brighter and lighter.
Barbara was the ultimate do-it-yourselfer, Painting, wallpapering, redecorating, landscaping, reupholstering, stripping and staining furniture whether for her home, her friends and family’s homes, or for the many rentals she and her husband owned. It seemed there was nothing she wouldn’t take on. In fact, days before she was diagnosed with leukemia, having been in severe pain, she was at Home Depot, shopping for paint supplies, and then pulling weeds out in the garden. She just never let anything stand in her way. On the weekends, she could be found at rummage sales. She was a rummage sale fanatic. She had a gift for finding the “good stuff.” Part of the draw was that she always got to meet and talk to new people. And with her winning personality, she would drive away with not only a new friend but often a free sofa. And by God, that woman could get a stain out of anything! Always charming, always authentic, she had no pretensions: when you were with Barb, you knew it was the real deal.
Barbara loved parties. She loved them so much she was usually the last to go. She loved to laugh. She loved people who could make her laugh. But she was best at laughing at herself. She would often point out her wall-size library of half-read self-help books. She would explain why the Christmas tree was still up in July: “It took so long to finally put it up I can’t bear the thought of tearing it down. We’ll throw some eggs on it for Easter, flags for Fourth of July…” She never took herself too seriously and delighted in the simple pleasures of being a mom: She would wear fluorescent muumuus to amusement parks so that her kids could always spot her in the crowd. And even in those bright colors and funny outfits, she still looked fabulous. Sophia Loren, eat your heart out! She was ahead of her time with the health food craze (at least for her kids): no white sugar, white bread, or frosted flakes. While the kids pined for all things white and Wonder-bready, Barb, would shop for Branola bread, organic honey and Al-bran cereal at the grocery store, sneaking handfuls of peanut M&Ms from a 5 lb. bag hidden in her shopping cart. And be the first one to laugh about it.
She gave the best massages on earth. She had the strongest hands. Such a nurturer, it is no wonder she went into the field of nursing. She was a 1958 graduate of the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing and worked as an RN in private practice for many years. She also proudly served her country as a nurse for the US Navy. Barbara was born in Springfield, MA on November 1, 1937; the daughter of Ludwig and Francis (Bonetti) Batt. With her Italian-German descent she had the most beautiful skin that was the envy of many. In Santa Barbara she was a well known community member and supporter of the arts, theater, and music. If there was an opening night, chances are Barb was in the crowd ready to celebrate.
She was married to her beloved husband, Christopher Story VI, for 42 years and she was the proud mother to Dawn Sanchez (Matt), Tiffany Story, Cynthia Story, Sabrina Story, Heather Story, Christopher Story VII; all of Santa Barbara, and Monica SeMarier of Dallas, TX. Barbara had 10 grandchildren: Joshua, Adriana, Manuel, Matt, Amber, Timmy, Daniel, Elijah, Christopher VIII, and Elliott; along with many great-grandchildren, cousins, nieces, and nephews. And was also the sister to Martin Batt (Kathy) of Springfield, MA.
She is the best person we have ever known: and she is our hero.
We are without words now that our mom is gone. She was our brightest light, our biggest fan, and our rock. We love you and miss you more and more every day, Mom, and we look forward to the day when we get to see you again.
A celebration of Barbara’s life will be held at Sunday, November 9th at 2:00 p.m., at Montecito Covenant Church, 671 Cold Springs Road, Santa Barbara. The family invites anyone who was touched by Barbara’s life, laughter, smile, and love to join them for this special time of remembrance.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Foundation for SBCC, SBCC Nursing Program, 721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109.