The farm home of Sarah (Tarwater) Doak and Harry Alexander Doak, near Gallatin, Missouri, was, on June 1, 1924, the birthplace of Barbara Ann Doak. She was their last child, with four brothers, Justin, Lowell, Tom, Kenneth, and one sister, Helen.
Barbara was a part of a “double-cousin” family, as two brothers had married two sisters. The family of Grace Tarwater and Edgar Doak lived near, with seven children. They were very close, and Barbara reported that they “hardly knew which mother was theirs.” Both families believed in education, and through the difficult times of the Great Depression they sacrificed and shared to provide college degrees for each child, and several advanced degrees.
Barbara attended a one-room country school and Gallatin High School. In 1942 she enrolled in the University of Missouri to study Home Economics. There she met Melvin West, a student in the College of Agriculture. Soon after they started to date, Melvin enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and their courtship continued by mail and during short leaves.
In 1945, as the war wound down, Melvin sent Barbara, by telegram, a proposal of marriage. She packed her suitcases and wedding dress, boarded a train, and nine days later they were married, June 16, 1945, in the base chapel at Camp LeJuene, NC. Melvin was discharged from the Corps in 1946. Both Barbara and Melvin were one year from the completion of their studies at MU. They returned and stood by side to graduate in 1947.
Upon graduation they moved to a 200 acre farm in Jasper County, MO, and began developing it into a model Grade A dairy farm, following the University guidelines for a “balanced farm.” Barbara became a 4-H Home Agent for Jasper County. Two children were born, Susan, in 1949, and Moine in 1951.
In 1959 the family moved to Dallas, TX, where Melvin received two degrees at Perkins School of Theology. There they were the pastor’s family for Stevens Park Methodist Church, an inner city church which grew from 27 members to 267 during the six years of their leadership. Barbara worked as proofreader for the Texas Methodist Newspaper.
In 1965 the family moved to Columbia, MO, where Melvin started a mission outreach program for United Methodist churches. This brought unusual opportunities and responsibilities for Barbara. For four years she was a part of the leadership for the VIEW (Volunteers In Ecumenical Witness) at the Lake of the Ozarks, with a special focus on the G.I.’s from Ft. Leonard Wood who came to the lake on the weekends.
When that program closed Barbara gave her love and attention to the underprivileged children in the inner city area of Columbia. She became volunteer staff for a day care center. Together with an ecumenical group of which she was a part, she went on to establish the Fun City Academy. She gave it her heart and labors for 13 years, and it has become a part of the local school system.
In the 1980’s Barbara and two friends saw the need and opportunity to provide a “Fair Price” market for the craft products of low-income and skilled crafts persons. They started by small sales on Sunday at churches. The project has evolved into a full sized gift shop at Community United Methodist Church, with extended sales in other churches.
Barbara and Melvin worked and traveled together in many ongoing projects. One of the most popular was the “teddy bear” project which gathered 16,500 stuffed animals for sick and dying children in Russia who were victims of the Chernobyl incident. Barbara received, checked and packed nearly all those animals.
Barbara and Melvin became friends of President Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter as they worked together on Habitat for Humanity. Barbara and Mr. Carter, both the same age, were on hospice care at the same time. Alfalit was another project in which Barbara and Melvin shared, traveling to Haiti, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica with its work. Heifer International received many days, weeks and months of their volunteer time and efforts.
Barbara especially loved gardening, and after they moved to Lenoir in 2000 she and Melvin turned the little hillside at the back of their property, filled then with trees, honeysuckle, poison ivy and briers, into a lovely shrub and plant garden.
Barbara had a heart as big as the world, and was constant in her love and concern for it’s less fortunate. Her love, pride and joy were for her family and their friends, and for her special nap partner, her cat, Pumpkin.
She is survived by her husband, Melvin; daughter, Susan; daughter-in-law, Mabel; grandsons, Martin, Aaron, and their spouses, and Pumpkin.
Memorials in her memory may be given to Rainbow Network, Ste. A, 2840 E. Chestnut Expressway, Springfield, MO 65802; Heifer International, 1 World Ave., Little Rock, AR, 72202; or to the charity of your choice.
Memorial Services will be held at a later date.
Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory, 12 E. Ash St., Columbia, MO 65203. (573) 449-4153. Condolences may be left online for the family at www.parkermillard.com