Obituary: Barbara Katherine Harden Smith March 3, 1943 – Jan. 20, 2020

BARBARA KATHERINE HARDEN SMITH March 3, 1943 – Jan. 20, 2020

Barbara, “Bobbie” to family and childhood friends, completed her journey of love, laughter, joy and heartache on Monday, January 20, 2020, in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Born to William Ray “Bill” Harden and Lula Elizabeth Goode “Pat” Harden in Birmingham, Alabama, she was big sister to brother Terry “Lee” Harden, and sister-cousin to Robbie Waldrop Elliott.

She graduated from West End High School in Birmingham and married her high school sweetheart, Malcolm Taylor Smith. They had three daughters. His career took them all across the United States.  Barbara and Malcolm went their separate ways and Barbara made New Mexico her final home. Although she loved the many different locations they’d spent time in, her favorite place was the ocean and white sands of Panama City Beach, Florida.

Barbara had a diverse work life in Los Alamos. She was a childcare provider at Busy Bee Daycare, a floral designer at Gillespie’s, a teacher’s aide at Chamisa Elementary School, a church secretary at White Rock Baptist Church, a bookkeeper for medical offices, and a self-employed seamstress. Barbara was also an active volunteer at First Baptist Church of Los Alamos, working in the nursery, at Vacation Bible School, and with the youth group.

Barbara’s center was in creativity; as a child she began what would become a prolific life as a talented seamstress and quilter, and like her father and daughter she loved painting. In the 1970’s and 80’s many Los Alamos and White Rock residents wore her men’s and women’s suits, custom western shirts, bridal and party gowns, down jackets for customers of the local sporting goods store, and high school cheerleaders wore her custom outfits. She managed all of this while simultaneously clothing her own family. When her children were grown she made and donated quilts, blankets, hats and scarves to various shelters, children’s homes, and nursing homes. She also knitted, crocheted, gardened, and raised irises and orchids. A lifelong learner, she took college level courses, and piano lessons when she was in her 40s and read countless books.

Though memory began to fail her recently, she joyfully recalled a day in the 80’s when her favorite movie star, in town for filming, pulled up next to her at the White Rock stoplight (Robert Redford if you’re reading this….). With the summer bear activity in Los Alamos, she reminisced about camping in Yellowstone in her 20’s and how a bear got into their food stash. She happily recalled the fun of jumping on a trampoline with her grandchildren; of laughing so hard she cried while playing board-games with her children; of the joy of fellowship playing volleyball with her gang of housewives and church friends. And she loved the double-takes she got from nursing home staff when she preferred to listen to the Rolling Stones instead of more serene music options.

Barbara leaves behind her brother Terry “Lee” Harden (Christine), special cousin Robbie Waldrop Elliott; daughters Julie Smith McNeal; Kerin Smith Groves (Doug Linze); and Lori Smith Erickson (Mike Hoog); grandchildren Faith Groves Song (Daniel); Courtney Groves; Kenneth Groves Jr. (Samantha); Ryan, Holly and Jenna Erickson; and great-granddaughter Rylee Groves. She leaves Mary Moses and Judy Marsh, her confidantes and cohorts of over 50 years; and many loving friends whose visits kept her spirits up these last years.

Barbara believed in God and knew she would be welcomed in heaven by those who preceded her in death: her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, son-in-law Kenneth Groves Sr., and special friend Henry Starley.

Barbara’s daughters ask that you listen to your favorite music and have something chocolate in her memory. In lieu of flowers, please donate to your local children’s home or women’s shelter.

Thank you to the staff of Sombrillo Nursing Home, who watched over her since 2012, and Ambercare Hospice, who made her final days more comfortable.

Barbara’s family entrusted her final care to Rivera Family Funeral Home.

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