Barbara B. Withers

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  • "Our condolences to the entire Withers family, our thoughts..."
    - Rick & Lori Lovett
  • "I have wonderful memories of sitting in the kitchen with..."
    - Patty Wilber
  • "Aunt Barby was such a fun person. Wish I had more time with..."
    - Sharri Withers
  • "Peace to you all, celebrate all the wonderful things Barby..."
  • "RIP Barbie! The World's loss is Definitely Heaven's gain. ..."
    - Susan Dunn (Howe)
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Funeral service for Barbara B. Withers will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb, 25, 2014, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 1884 22nd St. N.W. in Rochester, with the Rev. Dr. Douglas Sparks officiating. Burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery in Rochester.

Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes, (corner of 18th Ave. and 55th St. N.W.) in Rochester. There also will be a visitation one hour before the funeral service at St. Luke's.

Barbara B. Withers, 86, a lifelong resident of Rochester, who spent more than 45 years as an active volunteer in many phases of the Corrections and Criminal Justice programs in Olmsted County, died Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, at Golden Living Center East in Rochester.

She was born here July 25, 1927, the daughter of Dr. John and Margaret Berkman. She graduated from Rochester High School in 1945 and attended Scripps College in California and the University of Minnesota.

Beginning in the 1960s as a volunteer at the old Youth Vocational Camp (YVC) to her longtime position as the volunteer coordinator for staffing the jail library at the Adult Detention Center, she participated in a variety of Olmsted County and statewide programs. From the PORT agency in the 1970s (Probation Offenders Rehabilitation and Training) to JSSVP (Justice Social Systems Volunteer Program), to the Guardian Ad Litem program, she was an involved volunteer.

Barby, as she preferred to be called, was honored many times for her active roles. Among the citations: JSSVP cited her several times for her dedicated service to that organization's various programs. In 1982, Gov. Al Quie commended her for her service to the Governor's Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee and to the Guardian Ad Litem program. In 1988, Gov. Rudy Perpich also cited her for her continued volunteer work in those activities. In 1985, the Dodge, Fillmore, Olmsted (DFO) Community Corrections honored her service to that program. In 1989, she was presented the Rochester Mayor's Medal of Honor for Human Services. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush paid tribute to her numerous volunteer commitments with a presidential "Point of Light" award. Among her many honors, she was most proud of that presidential recognition. In 1997, the American Jail Association named her its Volunteer of the Year and presented the award plaque at the AJA annual convention in Salt Lake City. That same year, the Minnesota Sheriffs Association named her its Volunteer of the Year at its convention. She was the "boss" of the inmates' library at the jail for many years as a worker and as the recruiter for volunteers to help staff the facility. More recently, in 2010, she was honored with the Maude Finch Award for "a career of service and achievement in our community" by the Women's Leadership Council of the United Way of Olmsted County. And in 2012, she was one of 25 women profiled in the book "Taking the Lead" with the subtitle "Rochester Women in Public Policy, 1970-1990." The book was sponsored by the Rochester League of Women Voters.

In addition to her years of volunteer service to various corrections and criminal justice activities, she also served on the board of directors of other community organizations, including the Rochester Area Foundation, Rochester Community College Foundation, Civic League Day Nursery and the Rochester Sesquicentennial celebration.

She is survived by her husband, Charles Withers, a former editor and co-owner of the Rochester Post-Bulletin; along with a son, John (Patricia) Withers, of Rochester; and two daughters, Ann (Russ) Martin, of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Suzanne (Mike) Schrader, of Eagan. Also surviving are seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren; along with her sister, Suzanne Johnson, of Alexandria, Va.; and brother, William (Cynthia) Berkman, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

A granddaughter, Veronica Schrader, preceded her in death.

Dr. W.W. Mayo was Barby's great-grandfather. Her grandmother was Gertrude Mayo Berkman, the sister of Drs. Will and Charlie Mayo. Her father, Dr. John Berkman, was a longtime Mayo Clinic physician.

Many Mayo family historical items were donated by Barby to the Heritage Museum in the lobby of the Mayo Building and to a display cabinet along the subway corridor into the Gonda Building.

Arrangements are pending at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes and St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

The family prefers memorial to the Rochester Area Foundation or the Mayo Clinic Foundation.

Funeral Home
Ranfranz & Vine Funeral Homes - Rochester
5421 Royal Place NW
Rochester, MN 55901
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Published in The Post-Bulletin from Feb. 15 to Feb. 17, 2014
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