Mary Weaver Barksdale Huddleston
Johnson-Vaughn-Phelps Funeral Home, Inc. - Bowling Green
901 Fairview Avenue
Bowling Green, KY
Mary Weaver Barksdale Huddleston

Bowling Green - Mary W. Huddleston of Bowling Green, Ky., died Saturday morning of Alzheimer's disease, cancer and COVID-19. She was 77.

Known as Winkie, she was raised in Nashville, Tenn., and her parents instilled in her all of the social graces befitting a southern belle. Yet, growing up with three brothers, Winkie wasn't afraid to get her smocked dresses dirty running around with her beloved dog Nipper and making mudpies that she conned the boy next door into eating.

She was a graduate of Sophie Newcomb College, the women's college of Tulane University. She studied history and Spanish, pledged Pi Beta Phi sorority and was on the water ballet team. What she loved most about her time in college, though, was being in New Orleans—where she embraced the sounds, smells and tastes of the city and the diversity of its people.

Winkie was a social worker in Louisville, Ky., in the 1960s—a profession her youngest daughter now shares. She often witnessed profound oppression and inequality. However, Winkie always found hope despite seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Her true gift was finding beauty in everything and creating it where it didn't exist. Winkie found beauty in spring flowers, Spanish guitar music and a well-played tennis match. Any walk through a new city was frequently punctuated with exclamations of "Look at the architecture!" She was a true artist, and it showed in her paintings, the way she decorated her home, the gardens she grew, the matching dresses she sewed for her daughters when they were little, and the stunning galas she conceived and created for the Capitol Arts Center.

Winkie was an incredibly giving person, always volunteering her time for the Capitol Arts Center, the Bowling Green-Warren County Arts Commission, the Presbyterian Church and numerous other organizations and events in Bowling Green. She gave of her talents, kindness and compassion for more than 15 years as an assistant pre-school teacher at the Saint Joseph Interparochial School in Bowling Green, where she was loved by her students and their parents.

Winkie loved playing tennis, and her tennis group became some of her closest friends. She was an incredible cook, but her daughters will remember her "French market doughnuts" as her greatest culinary accomplishment. She loved entertaining and was always the life of the party.

Winkie was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at the age of 65. Although the disease slowly robbed her of her memory, it never took away the essence of who she truly was. Her cheerfulness, kindness and openness remained.

Winkie lives on in her daughters' humor, creativity, compassion, volunteerism, love of culture and exploration, involvement in arts and sports, and the occasional exuberant appreciation of architecture.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John McConnico Barksdale and Mary Weaver Barksdale, and two brothers, John Harris Barksdale and Richard Thomas Barksdale. She is survived by her brother, Weaver C. Barksdale of Brentwood, Tenn.; her daughters Cameron Huddleston Lebedinsky of Bowling Green and Robin Bartee of Louisville, Ky.; her son-in-law, Alex Lebedinsky of Bowling Green; her three grandchildren, Maya, Zoe and Alexander Lebedinsky of Bowling Green.

There will be a celebration of life for Winkie in the spring when the flowers are in bloom. Please honor her with a contribution to the Alzheimer's Association or Hospice of Southern Kentucky.

Published by Tennessean on Jan. 20, 2021.
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