Carolyn Barber

Visitation at Funeral Home

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sunday, October 14, 2018
The Hamil Family Funeral Home
6449 Buffalo Gap Road
Abilene, Texas, United States

Memorial Service

2:00 pm
Monday, October 15, 2018
Church Of The Heavenly Rest, Episcopal
602 Meander
Abilene, Texas, United States

Final Resting Place

Elmwood Memorial Park
5750 Highway 277 South
Abilene, Texas, United States

Obituary of Carolyn Barber

Carolyn Grisham Barber, whose piano talents and philanthropic spirit enriched the lives of Abilenians for years, died Thursday, October 11, 2018.


Visitation will be Sunday, October 14, 2018 from 4:00pm – 6:00pm at The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene.


Memorial services will be held 2:00pm, Monday, October 15, 2018 at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, 602 Meander Street, Abilene, Texas. Services are under the direction of The Hamil Family Funeral Home.


Born Carolyn Grisham in Abilene to Robert Copperfield Grisham and Carrie Brewer Grisham, Carolyn married Harwell Barber on July 8, 1950, in Abilene. A 1945 graduate of Abilene High School, Carolyn earned a bachelor’s degree in music with a major in piano pedagogy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1950.


She put that degree to good use, joining with Era Jo Lester on dual pianos to provide entertainment for friends and local organizations such as the Abilene Woman’s Club and the Pierian Club. Carolyn was a member of Mu Phi, a music scholastic society.


Carolyn was a vital part of Rita Barber, Inc., a tribute clothing manufacturing company founded by Rita Barber, who was the mother of Carolyn’s husband, Harwell. Carolyn held numerous positions with the Abilene-based firm, serving as secretary-treasurer, director of public relations, design assistant, sales director at conventions, and a board member.


The names “Carolyn and Harwell Barber” are stamped on many of Abilene’s civic organizations and endeavors. In honor of those contributions, Carolyn received the Golden Deeds Award in 1988 from the Abilene Exchange Club. In 1989, she was the recipient of the Pathfinders Award from the YWCA.


At the Golden Deeds Award presentation, longtime friend Peggy Beckham said in a video tribute that Carolyn “exemplifies so completely what we talk about when we talk about a Good Samaritan.”


Carolyn was also known for making numerous trips to the hospital to take cards and flowers and to visit. She delivered meals to the homebound and provided comfort to those in need. Beckham called her friend, Carolyn, “everybody’s best friend.”


Avid supporters of The Grace Museum, Carolyn and Harwell were honored at the museum’s 2006 Fall Benefit. They were presented with a tribute piece, a bronze sculpture titled “Sharing” created by Nolan Kelley, a friend and fellow member of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest.


A story in the Abilene Reporter-News about the honor quoted longtime friend James Parker, who noted that many Abilenians have benefitted from the generosity of the Barbers. He noted Carolyn’s outgoing personality, which others naturally picked up on, and praised her for inspiring the best in everyone.


Carolyn was a founding member of the Philharmonic Guild and served on the board of the Abilene Philharmonic. She was a founding member of Hospice of Abilene as well as a founding member and first chairwoman of the Hospice Auxiliary.


She also served on the board of pastoral Care and Counseling Center, the YMCA, Community Foundation of Abilene, and Serenity House. She was co-chair of the Rhinestone Round-Up for two years.


Carolyn was an active member of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest and held positions in the Diocese of Northwest Texas. She was on the Vestry, and held other positions, with Churchwoman of the Heavenly Rest. She also was on the Churchwoman’s Diocesan Board of Directors and was on the Spiritual Development Committee. At Heavenly Rest, Carolyn served as a Eucharistic Minister.


Other affiliations included membership in the Liberal Arts Council of the University of Texas at Austin and board of directors of Laity Lodge Foundation in Kerrville.


Carolyn was preceded in death by both of her parents and her husband, Harwell Barber.


Survivors include her children, Stephen Barber of Austin, and Callie Hampton and husband Lee of Abilene; her grandchildren, Kade Barber, Aven Barber, and Carie (Michael) Anthony.  


Honorary Pallbearers will be Jimmy Tittle, Art Goolsbee, James Parker, Bob Beckham, Jim Alexander, Nolan Kelley, Steve Suttle, H.C. Zachry, and Fred Watson.


In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made in Carolyn’s name to the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, 602 Meander Street, Abilene, TX 79602 or to the charity of your choice.

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