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Theresa Barkan "Toby" Willits

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Theresa Barkan "Toby" Willits Obituary
Willits Theresa "Toby" Barkan Willits, age ninety-nine, passed away on May 5, 2014. She is preceded in death by her parents Jacob and Sarah (Szulmierski) Wolfe, husband Manuel Barkan, husband Carmen Willits, son Joel Barkan, and her five sisters. She is survived by her daughter-in-law, Sandra Barkan; grandchildren, Bronwyn and Josh Barkan; and great-grandchildren, Arlo and Gabriel Barkan Lamm; and the families of Michael Willits and Marilyn Heberling. Toby grew up in the Bronx, a place rich with Jewish culture at the turn of the 20th century. As the youngest of six daughters, she was heavily influenced by her siblings, particularly her sister Adele, who married the important Yiddish writer Joseph Opatoshu. This introduced her to the world of art and culture. In the intellectual milieu of New York City, she met her husband Manny Barkan, and she moved to Ohio for her husband's first big job at the Toledo Museum of Art. Subsequently, they moved to Columbus, where Manny chaired the Art Education Department at Ohio State. Toby developed her own rich career as a social worker, after graduating from Hunter College. She worked in family practice, in Columbus, holding positions at Family and Children's Bureau, Children's Hospital, Central Ohio Medical Clinic, and the Jewish Family Services. Together with Manny, she traveled around the world, from Paris, during the Depression, to places as distant as Bali, Indonesia. Following the early death of Manny Barkan, she married Carmen Willits, with whom she had a very fruitful and warm marriage. Along with her professional work, Toby was a docent at the Columbus Museum of Art, for many years. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on June 22 at Friendship Village in Dublin, Ohio, 6000 Riverside Drive. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Manuel Barkan Endowed Fellowship Fund at The Ohio State University Foundation, 1480 West Lane Ave., Columbus, OH 43221. Online guestbook at www.epsteinmemorial.com

Published in The Columbus Dispatch on June 17, 2014
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