Barbara Allen was born on September 4,1929 in Porterville, California, but she grew up on a farm in Meigs county Tennessee. She was a brilliant child who started first grade at the age of four years old. Several years later, though she was the youngest and smallest member of the class, she negotiated a position on the school's basketball team. Because of a complete lack of athletic ability coupled by an intense fear of being hit by the ball, she was quickly promoted to the team's mascot. Each team picture featured Barbara front and center, small and smiling, holding the winning ball. This ambition to live life to the fullest regardless of the circumstances characterized her life.
She graduated top of her class from a one room schoolhouse, all while smoking cigarettes flirting with boys and dancing the night away. She wanted to go to college but was uncertain how to even apply. Instead, she went to Nashville to go to secretarial school. She loved the big city. She lived with her two best friends and joined a sorority set up to introduce young ladies to Vanderbilt men.
One New Year's Eve, she had a blind date with a Vanderbilt chemistry student, who turned out to be a dashing young Brazilian. "Henylson," he said when Barbara asked him his name. After several repetitions at increasing volume and with exaggerated enunciation, Barbara told him that going forward his name would be Joe, which she felt was much more manageable. Within a year Barbara and Joe Botelho were married.
After marrying, they moved to Honolulu, where Joe started graduate school in organic chemistry at the University of Hawaii. Within the lofty university scene, Barbara felt under educated with her rural high school diploma. With a "How hard can it possibly be?" attitude, she decided to educate herself by reading books from the local library. This proved useful not only in keeping her own during conversations ranging from politics to literature but also in making her a champion trivia player and awe inspiring in completing New York Times crossword puzzles.
After Joe earned his degree, they started what would be a lifelong trip around the world, moving first to Brazil, then Sweden, Colombia, Germany and Mexico as Joe's career within the international division of B.F. Goodrich soared. In Brazil, their two children were born. Their son Michael received Allen as his middle name, while their daughter became Barbara junior linked by both name and blood to their mother. To avoid confusion, Barbara the younger was called Bebe.
As the little family moved from one country to the next, learning foreign languages quickly became a requirement. In each new country, Barbara cheerfully substituted volume for accuracy, mixing several foreign languages together with sprinklings of English words spoken with a French accent. She had supreme confidence that she would be able to make her point and was undaunted by the quizzical faces around her. Ultimately, she always prevailed. She also was able to understand what was said to her though she attributed this mostly to ESP rather than actual language skills. Her daughter was skeptical about the ESP explanation, until she traveled to Beijing and her mother was seemingly translating Chinese flawlessly on day one.
When Joe retired, they moved to Camelot apartments in Akron, Ohio. Their life was filled with fancy parties, bridge games, fantastic vacations and gatherings with friends. In the evening they would sit on their balcony, sipping martinis and discussing the day. Joe was an accomplished whistler, and he would routinely whistle to and with the birds. Barbara would lovingly tend to her bright red geraniums. For years after Joe died, the trills he had taught the birds could be heard as the rest of the family sat on the balcony without him.
Barbara never truly recovered from losing Joe. She missed him terribly and spoke fondly of him at every opportunity. But she continued to have adventures. She traveled to China with Bebe to see Mike where they listened to jazz in the Old Peace Hotel and explored the city. She traveled to San Francisco to watch her grandson Hugh play soccer while giving side eye to the opposite team's parents and issuing what sounded like a hiss directed at another player. She watched her granddaughter Megan walk down the runway at her elementary school's fashion show. Ultimately, she helped her daughter through a painful divorce, saying, "Your marriage may be dead, but you are not." Simple yet profound wisdom.
Barbara Allen Botelho died at 4:46 am on December 22, 2020 in Greensboro, North Carolina. She will be missed by her family and her friends but will be joined in heaven by her beloved Joe.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at 4:00 PM at the Smith & Buckner Funeral Home Chapel. There will be a celebration of Barbara's life in Emeryville, CA on Sunday December 27, 2020 at 7 pm. Black Tie. Martinis and chocolate will be served. Dancing required.
Smith & Buckner is assisting the Botelho family.
Online condolences may be made at www.pughfuneralhome.com