Barbara Werner, a longtime South Whidbey resident, passed away on August 20th, 2021, after a long struggle with vascular dementia and a devastating stroke. She was born October 8th, 1931, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin to Richard and Margaret (Krohg) Werner.
Barbara and her two sisters – Margaret Lamus (Bruce) of Everett and Anne Anderson (Gordon) of Freeland, spent blissful summers at their cottage on Round Lake, Wisconsin, where songs were sung of their legendary beauty. Barbara had an ever present and subtle sense of humor that curled down the corners of her mouth when she was particularly amused. She was a kind and loyal friend who also had a determined and feisty side, shown only to those who knew her best. She cherished her many lifelong friendships, and will be greatly missed by those who knew her.
At a time when only about 5% of women earned college degrees, Barbara graduated with a degree in education from the Eau Claire State Teachers College (now the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire) in 1953. She began her teaching career, and following her sister Margaret (though she would never admit it) she moved to Washington State in 1955, where she taught elementary school in Seattle.
She met Kenneth Brydges while skiing at Stevens Pass with her sister Anne. Ken was charming and persuasive and eventually won her heart. They married in December of 1957, and moved to Anchorage, Alaska where she taught school and Ken was an air traffic controller. Together they had three children, Hunter, Diana (Phil Wakefield) and Richard Brydges. In 1962, they returned to Washington and settled on Deer Lake in Clinton (Whidbey Island) to raise their family. Barbara kept busy with gardening, raising animals, canning, and bread making. Free time was often spent cruising the San Juan Islands and beyond in their boat. Barbara and Ken divorced in 1979, but continued to keep in touch over time and distance until his death in 2012.
Motherhood was Barbara’s greatest calling. She would do anything for her children, whether it was giving her last dollar or hitching up the trailer and filling it and the back seat of the Mercedes with chickens and goats to enter in the Island County Fair. Nothing was too outrageous or too much to do for her children.
She loved hiking through forests and hunting for mushrooms, beach walks, and finding agates. She was always ready for a road trip adventure or a swim in the lake. She was the mom who all the kids loved – she was the lifeguard, the cheering section, the driving instructor, and always the non-judgmental confidante.
Her love for dogs was nearly as deep as her love for her own children. Over the years, she loved and cared for an assortment of “best friends”, some of which were sweethearts, and some…some were nasty evil beasts. Nevertheless, they secured a place in her heart.
She often volunteered as a poll worker and was a much-loved substitute teacher at South Whidbey elementary school. She had a go in real estate at Clinton Realty where she made some very dear friends, but not as many sales.
In her later years, she moved to Everett to be closer to her daughter, Diana. Although Barbara’s heart never left Whidbey, the move enabled her to enjoy her grandsons, her daughter’s garden bounty, her wonderful caregiver Suzy, and the endlessly caring staff at the Mukilteo Adult Family Home.
She is survived by her two sisters, her two sons and daughter, five grandsons: Alex, Bror, Cody, Barrett, and Brendan and two great-grandsons, Avery and Linden.
There will be a private memorial gathering for her family in October.
If desired, donations can be made to WAIF, Whidbey Animal’s Improvement Foundation, in remembrance of Barbara Werner, online at waifanimals.org or mailed to WAIF, PO Box 1108, Coupeville, WA 98239.