March 21, 2012
Barbara Coburn passed this week. I believe she was the first Earlham alumna I knew — or at least knew had gone to Earlham. She taught me Geography in 9th grade at Penfield High School in suburban Rochester (NY), and helped to open a wider world to me. Her son and grandson also went to Earlham, her grandson while I was president.
From the obituary: “Raised in Greenwich, NY, Barbara earned a B.A. degree in History from Earlham College. She taught History and Geography in Penfield from 1957 until she retired in 1983. After she retired from teaching, she joined the AARP income tax program in Pittsford, and began another 25-year career assisting senior citizens in preparing their individual tax returns. A lifelong Quaker, she was a member of the Easton Friends Meeting. She was profoundly interested in social justice, and was a philanthropist who generously supported education, womens’ issues, and medical causes around the world.”
I am indebted to Barbara, and I will miss her. (I should say “Mrs. Coburn,” of course. At Penfield we didn’t use first names as we do at Earlham.) She was a true Earlhamite.