COLUMBIA — Barbara Weinstock's life was anything but traditional.

Her daughter Ellen Keene remembers how the family hosted exchange students from Japan and Sweden while they were growing up in Kirkwood, Missouri.

“This was back in the 50s. She wasn’t working, she was at home with the kids,” she said. “She wanted to stay connected to life and to the world. She always wanted to have her own life outside of the home.”

In 1966, Ms. Weinstock and her then husband, Ray Weinstock, moved away from everything they knew in Kirkwood to Northern Virginia. After she divorced, she went back to school to get her master’s degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she focused on psychodrama and family therapy.

“When I graduated from high school, she left home and went to college,” Keene said.

Ms. Weinstock pursued passions as diverse as horseback riding and traveling to Europe to paint and photograph. In the 70's, she was part of a clowning and miming group. There was a time period in her life where she contemplated attending clown school. 

After living with Alzheimer’s for close to ten years, she died at the age of 84 on Oct. 20, 2016, at her daughter Kathy Weinstock’s home. She moved to Columbia to live with Kathy Weinstock and her son-in-law, Mike Peplow, six years ago, when she was no longer able to drive or live independently. Her daughters remember her as independent, creative, and a great listener.

“Having her here really healed our relationship through the last six years — being able to be with her here and seeing her having to give up layer after layer of independence living with Alzheimer’s,” Kathy Weinstock said.

“She did get to this point where she accepted help and was gracious and dignified,” she said. “To have her here was such a good thing for me.”

Ms. Weinstock’s grandparents lived on East Broadway in Columbia. She used to visit them every summer when she was growing up. When she returned to Columbia decades later, Kathy Weinstock said, her mother enjoyed the last six years of her life by going for long walks, taking drives to Rocheport to see the river, and attending all kinds of events, from horse shows to dog shows to circuses.

During the last few years of her life, Ms. Weinstock steadily lost memories, but she could remember songs, especially Christmas carols.

“I think she felt like herself through singing,” Kathy Weinstock said. 

One room in Kathy Weinstock's home is decorated with her mother’s oil paintings. Brightly colored trees and detailed depictions of Ms. Weinstock's travels through France and Italy adorn the walls.

After her Alzheimer’s progressed, Kathy Weinstock said, her mother took to coloring and other hobbies, but painting and art dominated earlier parts of her life. She showed her work at galleries, took classes in the U.S. and Europe, and worked as a commercial artist for a newspaper in Virginia as one of her first jobs.

“She inspired me to be an artist,” Keene said. “She was always very supportive.”

Keene recalled a time when her mother visited her home in Vermont to spend time with her only grandson, Ian Keene, now 16. She said she came home and Ms. Weinstock had him dressed in a smock and painting with an easel.

“She had a refined sense of color and form. We would just go out for a drive, and she noticed everything in the colors, the lighting, and the beauty of nature,” Kathy Weinstock said. Her mother would point out rainbows and the colors of leaves when they went for walks in the woods.

Ms. Weinstock was born on Dec. 1, 1931, in St. Louis. She attended school in University City, Missouri, and met her future husband Ray Weinstock while in junior high. They married in 1954.

After her divorce, Kathy Weinstock said, her mother had companions, but she always wanted to live on her own. “She had every tool you could imagine to take care of things around her house,” she said. “She just got things done and wasn’t needy.”

She said her mother maintained rich friendships and a well-rounded life in Richmond.

The family will have a private get-together on Nov. 1 at Bellefountaine Cemetery in St. Louis, where her remains will be interred next to her parents, R.H. and Peggy Pauk. No formal funeral service will be held.

Keene said she will miss the long walks she and her mother took together at Virginia Beach when she came to visit. “We’d get up and just walk and walk endlessly and talk endlessly. It was a time away from our lives,” she said.

“She was loved deeply, and she’ll be missed by family and friends,” Keene said.

Kathy Weinstock said she will miss her mother’s sense of sweetness and gratefulness.

“Some of her last words were 'thank you.' ”

Supervising editor is Allison Colburn.

  • Erin McKinstry is an Enterprise reporter for the Columbia Missourian. Reach her by email at emckinstry8@gmail.com or by phone at 314-800-4764.

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