Obituaries: Barbara Seibert Farnsworth

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Barbara Seibert Farnsworth

Barbara Seibert Farnsworth, formerly of Downingtown, passed away on December 14, 2023 at the age of 89. She was a 1952 graduate of Downingtown High School, which was then located across the street from her family home on Manor Avenue. She married F. Dennis Farnsworth, also of Downingtown, the summer after her freshman year at West Chester State College, but withdrew from that institution halfway through her sophomore year when to her great joy she discovered herself to be pregnant with her firstborn child. Over the course of time she would give become the mother of eight children, all of whom survived her passing.

Once her children had all grown to college age, she returned to higher education herself, transferring to the University of Colorado in Boulder, where the family had relocated. She majored in “Interpreting Natural History,” and her children were proud of the fact that, despite their mother having spent 31 years as a sophomore, she received her bachelor’s degree at the age of 50. She went on to serve as administrator of the Museum of Natural History of the University of Colorado, from which she ultimately retired.

Barbara’s husband passed in 1999, and she never remarried. During her retirement years she served as a docent at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where she developed a penchant for gardening with native plants. She later served as a docent in Zion National Park, where she also led volunteer efforts to eradicate invasive plant species. Her volunteer efforts won local awards, and her home gardens were featured in horticultural magazines. Among her other volunteer activities, she was highly regarded for her many years of service as as a church organist in the various places she lived.
Barbara took great delight in the accomplishments of her children, who are known for their creativity and scholarship. John is an emeritus professor of environmental studies and an author, Dee is an art director for animated films and a virtuoso old-time musician, Robert is a professor of both horticulture and landscape architecture, Joan is an artisanal jeweler, Tom is a film director and producer, Ann is executive director of an environmental foundation, Trish is a restauranteur, and Ned is a contractor specializing in custom carpentry. Barbara is also survived by her sister, Harriet Seibert Pannebaker, her sister-in-law, Mary Smedley Seibert, and by eight grandchildren.
Barbara’s ashes will be interred in a family plot in Northwood Cemetery in Downingtown, alongside her husband, father and mother, on June 13th at 11:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts are suggested to the Native Plant Society of the United States.

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