Barbara Parmelee Warnick Ph.D.
1946 - 2020
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Barbara Parmelee Warnick, Ph.D.

Of Pittsburgh, PA, Barbara passed away peacefully on Friday, June 26, 2020 due to complications of dementia. She was born in 1946 in Ashland, KY to Betty and Dick Parmelee and was preceded in death by her parents and older brother Richie. She is survived by her husband, Michael O'Connell, cousins William (Linda) Basse, Robert (Lisa Korner) Basse, Barbara Basse, Bruce (Debbie) Parmelee, and her sister-in-law Elaine (Paul) Holley.

Barbara devoted her life to teaching and service in education. She taught high school in Kentucky for a few years, then went on to earn a Ph.D. in the field of Communication and Rhetoric from the University of Michigan. Her first teaching job was with Tulane University in New Orleans. In 1980 she took a position at the University of Washington in Seattle and taught there for many years, eventually rising to the rank of full professor. Along the way she taught undergraduate and graduate courses, mentored many graduate students, served on countless committees and editorial boards, and served a term as chair of her department. She wrote several books and published many research articles, in addition to her teaching and service duties. She and Michael moved to Pittsburgh in 2006 where she was chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh.

Those who knew Barbara will remember her as smart, outgoing, committed to excellence in education and scholarship, and ready to debate on almost any topic. And she never missed a deadline. She was outspoken, never shy about sharing her opinions, had high standards for her students, but at the end of the day was always ready for a glass of wine. Barbara also had a spirit for adventure and played as hard as she worked. She once rafted down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and went on many back packing trips with her cousins. Barbara and Michael met in 1986 and together they explored the Pacific Northwest going hiking, skiing, camping, and bicycle riding whenever possible. Most people don't know this, but they spent their honeymoon tent camping in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. And yes, there was snow. At the end of every vacation, Barbara's first thoughts were always about planning the next adventure.

Remember this spirited lady who is no longer with us, and when the opportunity arises, drink a toast in her memory. Service and Interment Private.

Arrangements by WEDDELL-AJAK FUNERAL HOME, Pittsburgh, PA.

Contributions in Barbara's memory can be made to the "Barbara Warnick Endowed Fellowship" at the University of Washington in Seattle: (

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times from Jun. 29 to Jun. 30, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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2 entries
July 6, 2020
I still have Professor Warnick's book Critical Thinking and Communication: The Use of Reason in Argument on one of my bookshelves. Besides Argumentation & Debate, she was also the professor for an interviewing class I took. One day she told us she herself was being interviewed that evening on one of the local TV stations, and many of the students tuned in for that. Fine job!

Don't know if the photo is from before or after I was in two or three of her UW classes, but the obituary certainly sounds like her", outgoing, committed to excellence in education and scholarship... never shy about sharing her opinions...had high standards for her students....". If remembering correctly, Professor Warnick also co-chaired (or chaired) the department.

Hadn't seen or talked with Professor Barbara Warnick for over thirty years, but still sorry to hear of her passing. Condolences to her family, friends, and acquaintances.
Charmaine French-Allaka
July 4, 2020
Michael, so sorry to hear of Barbara's passing. It's been a long road. Miss seeing you too, Michael, please take care of yourself! Sending love and comfort to you, Krystal Kerr (Ken Watson's daughter)❤
Krystal Kerr
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