Barbara C. Barnes Rodriguez-Ellis, 74, of Orlean, the only child of Robert and Claudia Barnes and granddaughter of Alice and Turner Ferguson, died peacefully in the arms of God on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton.
Barbara, one of the first in her family to go to college, was a proud 1966 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, with majors in German and English and a minor in political science.
Her working life included two fantastic careers. She was a retail buyer of ladies’ apparel and accessories covering more than 13 years for several major department stores in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Her second career spanned many years as administrative assistant to the CEO of the American Association of Nurserymen and White House liaison to several First Ladies in the Landscape Awards Program centering on beautification of America. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Washington Youth Gardens with Mayor Barry and Robert F. Lederer, which provided sites donated from major companies for children of the District of Columbia to learn and grow vegetables for their families.
At the end of the growing season, a city-wide program was proudly presented, which showed what wonderful progress could be accomplished with everyone working together. In between, after learning to play the piano for over 11 years; she first played for the Mt. Morris Baptist Church in Hume under the tutelage of Katie Young and two Baptist churches in Washington, D.C. During those early years, Barbara headed up the Young Adults program at Mt. Morris and even in those years brought meaning and helpful ideas such as the danger of drugs, dressing for success, and notable speakers from various departments of government to enlighten the youth in her beloved neighborhood.
Her final job, after commuting to Washington, D.C., and further for over 40 years, she became a legal administrator for Hogan & Hartson L.L.P. During these years, you could even call Barbara a “rebel with a cause.” She worked tirelessly with the Fauquier school system and the United States Department of Education to gain equality for all children in Fauquier County; was one of the first members of the board of directors of Boys & Girls Club of Fauquier; started Dana Marketing, a stamp vending business; a barbecue business; and Rodell, a flooring business with her son. In 2010-11 they completed a huge flooring installation as subcontractor at the naval barracks in Norfolk, hiring over 38 employees when times and jobs were few.
Barbara also worked in her neighborhood as one of four female volunteer firemen for Orlean Volunteer Fire Department. Being the smallest of the females, she would sometimes lose her boots as the fire truck was going around a corner. Her firemen's coat probably still holds the record of being the smallest hanging on the wall. When not helping with fires, she would be busy helping with bingo, the ham and oyster dinners, or Halloween night at the fire hall.
Even after illness caused her retirement, Barbara pushed on. God refused to let her give up. She had been a soldier on the battle field for a very long time. Barbara was baptized at the age of 10 years old, in a chilly stream near Mt. Morris Baptist Church. Her mentor and tutor was Rev. J. P. Baltimore. One of her proudest accomplishments was putting together with her husband, Deacon Phil Ellis, the Senior Choir for Walnut Grove Baptist Church where her 13-member choir became so good that they sometimes got invited to travel to engagements at other churches. She and Deacon Ellis established a scholarship fund for the youth of Walnut Grove. In the end she joined the Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the teachings and word of God sanctified the deep seated meaning of the cross and corresponded with her earlier teachings by Rev. J. P. Baltimore.
From childhood, she maintained that writing was like having a sibling, especially if you were an only child. She completed her second book of poetry, after leaving the hospital in 2002. From that, she has one poem, which was included in From Silver Fountains and is cataloged in the Library of Congress. Her outstanding contribution was recognized in the anthology, “The International Library of Poetry,” in 2000. Barbara, as a very young child, was viewed as creative. Her most treasured hobbies included writing, drawing, and dollhouses. She designed, and built dollhouses and furniture, and dabbled in charcoal drawings. Some of these items may be seen in her house today.
Near her end, God was still guiding her mind and heart and pushing her onward. She acquired a love for antiques and things of yesteryear. The saying on her card was, “Elegance from the past where good things are never forgotten.” With that little push, Barbara secured a vending space in Past Reflections, Fox Den in Warrenton, and finally Robin’s Nest in Marshall. Barbara loved the unique item, especially if it was dainty and brought back memories of a simpler life, a useful life, a more meaningful life.
But in spite of all that she did, her most loved and cherished job was that of being a mother. Nothing stood in the way of that. A single parent, she was tenacious in seeing that her two children were well provided for and encouraged to reach for the heights of their abilities. Barbara deeply and undeniably loved Dana and Ronnie. She leaves behind a daughter, Dana E. R. Antiqua (Orlando) of Champaign, Illinois, and a son, Ronald J. Rodriguez (Sarah) of Front Royal. Her grandchildren only made her heart grow numbered three: Olivia (Livi) R. Antiqua (her heart) of Illinois, Jaden Burlock (her little artist) of Maryland, and (her hope) Jalen Rodriguez of Front Royal, who followed antique hobbies and collectible loves with her.
The joy of her life for most of her illness was her dog, LiL Bitz (Terrier and Schnauzer), who was given to her by Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins when arriving home from the hospital in November of 2002. At 5 months old, he was completely devoted and a constant companion who never left her side even during some of the worst times. He earned his badge as a Service Dog and could go into most places with her. Along with Lil Bitz, deep appreciation, understanding, and agape love went to James C. Kovacs, of Florida, who served as her caregiver for over 10 years. Each spring when God warmed the earth, Jimmy and Barbara and Lil Bitz would set out to find flowers to fill the back porch. She enjoyed all of God's wondrous gifts, especially those of flowers. She had a green thumb and often shared a new growth.
Barbara also leaves behind many friends. Over the years, Barbara would take into her home those in need, lonely, sick or homeless. May she now rest in peace. Barbara will be greatly missed by many who knew her because her love for helping others was part of her and was contagious. Barbara tried her very best in all that she attempted to do to make the world a better place, a more loving place, a more peaceful place. Indeed, SHE TRIED.
A graveside service took place Friday, August 3, at Mt. Morris Community Cemetery in Hume.
Online condolences may be offered at www.joynesfuneralhome.com