Barbara Ellenor (Beard) 1939 - 2007
(From Terry Atkinson - her cousin - October 2007)

For photographs of Barbara or Click this Link or go to "Photo Album 53"

Barbara was the only child of Jack and Olive Ellenor. They originated from County Durham but moved to Coventry where Barbara was born on December 01 1939. Her father was an engineer and her mother a housewife. At the start of WW2 her father volunteered for Bomber Command flying Avro Lancaster's out of RAF Fiskerton in Lincolnshire.

In 1941 their home was destroyed by a German bombing raid upon Coventry. Both her mother and Barbara moved back to Spennymoor in County Durham and lived with her Grand Mother until her mother finally purchased a house close by. At an early age Barbara had a gift for playing music and her mother sent her to piano lessons where she eventually graduated to level 7. One day in 1944 her father arrived unexpected from his air force base in Fiskerton. Before he left he gave his wife a letter for Barbara only be opened should he not return from active duty. Barbara remembered, he kissed her goodbye and left for his base in Fiskerton. The following day his aircraft crashed on the return trip from Germany. Several weeks later her mother was notified that he and a crew of seven were missing in action.

Her mother had to work in the ammunition factory so Barbara had yet to move again to live with her fathers parents in Langley Moor County Durham. She was given her case of clothes and put on a bus with two changes to make before being met by her Grand Father. Her Grand Father was a Baptist Minister and she religiously had to attend church services three time a day every Sunday

As the years went by she passed her scholarship and progressed with her beloved music. The North East of England had numerous brass and silver bands and she yearned to play one. The one she chose was the trombone. She had a terrible time to get anyone to teach her for the brass bands were at that time all male dominated. She first went to see the local Spennymoor and Whitworth band master. After many attempts he let her sit in with the band at all their practice sessions. She quickly learned and after much persuasion he let her audition for the band. She was accepted and started to play at all the band concerts within the area.

The climax came when she was one of the first lady bandsman to play in the Durham Miners Gala. Every colliery within the North East of England had a marching band. These bands on one special day each year marched into the City of Durham. They all formed up on the out skirts of the town and proudly marched through Durham and onto the race course. They all carried banners of the different mining villages and if anyone had died in a mine disaster the banner was draped in black. Barbara always said I was the only one coming out who was sober, all the men were a little worse for ware. It was a great day for all the bands and she always said, I felt so proud. The last Durham Miners Gala she saw was in June 2004 for the 120th Gala.

She carried on playing with the brass band but also turned her attention to the dance bands. She was auditioned and accepted again and started playing at all the local dances within the area. She dearly wanted to widen her knowledge and having seen an advert in the local paper, decided to go to the Isle of Wight where Ivy Benson auditioned her. Ivy accepted her immediately and on the tours she went.

Many towns they visited, some of the boarding houses were pretty grim but she always mentioned the rest of the girls were great. It appeared first one stop, play, and move on. Finally she met her husband at one of the US Air Force bases and moved to live in America.

It was at this point she was never allowed to play her beloved trombone. She was told women do not play brass instruments in the United States. This was in the early 1960's.

On arriving in America she had to sit several examinations to see that she understood the American constitution. She passed all of these tests with flying colours. They moved from Air force base to Air Force base many times within the USA. She raised a family of three children. Toni, Gary and Karen. They intern produced her eleven Grand Children. She was devoted to all the family and never once missed a Grand child's birthday.

With so much time on her hands she was steadfast in making sure each of her children attained the highest level of education. She attended every school function her children had and after that she once again looked for things to achieve.

The first thing she had to teach herself was how to drive a car. After many hours going round and round various off road areas, she became proficient enough to pass her test. This was her outlet and from then on she moved ahead with great speed once more.

She first looked for a job in her beloved music industry and was taken on as a salesperson for a company called Jordan Kitts in the late 60,s. She showed quickly that she knew how to sell musical instruments. She then moved to another company which was bought out by her final boss Ben O'Brien who told her years later she was the best thing that he got out of that purchase was Barbara. She started Music & Arts in the 70,s and soon made her way to store manager. She managed various stores until finally Ben O'Brien made her overall store manager of Virginia. Not only did she manage the stores on a day to day basis but was also given the task of running the entire warehouse operation. The business grew to large for her to manage both. She focussed on the warehouse operations first in Rockville, Maryland, then due to the rapid expansion of the company she moved to a new headquarters and warehouse in Frederick, Maryland. This was a period of high growth in the 90,s and saw the number of stores increased to 47. The stores always had a high rental season. When the schools started back more and more instruments were required. August and September were two gruelling months where she worked 6 days a week for 12 hours a day. This was the rental season and targets had to be kept and matched. She prided herself on running an efficient and accurate operation, when the yearly audits were performed the auditors were always impressed at how well the inventories matched the records. Barbara was very well liked by all her staff who recognised that she worked at least as hard as any of them, probably as hard as any two put together. She always treated all her staff fairly and generously and forfeited many days of her annual leave. The only time that she ever had off work was if she was ill or snow was to thick on the ground. Even with snow on the ground she would wait until the snow shovels cleared her path, that was how dedicated Barbara was. She finally became Vice President of Music & Arts and remained at this position until she retired in the early 2000,s

Her mother travelled from England some 84 times to the USA all being funded by Barbara. She always said, she must be the oldest mother to have travelled across the pond at an age of 82.

Barbara's mother finally could travel no more and a suitable old peoples home had to be found. Barbara looked into the possible chance of bringing her mother to America but the health insurance was just to expensive at that time of her life. Barbara visited her mother three to four times every year. Her mother was in the old peoples home in Bishop Auckland County Durham until she passed away in February 2007..

When she finally cleared out her mothers home, she found a very badly kept letter that her mother had never shown her. It was the one from her father the night before his plane went missing. After that she researched the internet and found exactly where her father and the crew of the Avro Lancaster had crashed.

The Lancaster had crashed in a tiny village in France on the way home from that fatal mission deep inside Germany. The village was called Ugny Sur Meuse and had a population of 124 people. The one thing she had always wanted, was to honour the memory of her father and the other crew members of that bomber.

This was arranged and we visited the grave. The graves of all the crew of that Lancaster were immaculately kept and had been since the French were liberated in 1945. The village and the mayor of the village came to greet us and a special service was held just for Barbara. It was a very sad occasion for her but she loved the French people for what they had done for all those years. Two of the people of that village always kept in touch with her and were distressed to hear the news of her passing away. A great many people also in England expressed the sympathy and kind words for what was an unthinkable thing.

Barbara spent the longest period of her life in Tall Oaks, Monrovia, Maryland but she also lived at Centreville and Fairfax. It was from her home that she was finally laid to rest in the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Washington DC on the 13th day of September 2007 at 14.00 hours US time.

The last note is to say, I spent many months over the last few years with Barbara and found her to be one of the loveliest women I could ever have met. Her kindness and generosity just stood out from anything else.
She loved all kinds of music ranging from classical, jazz, brass bands, big bands and opera. She always loved all animals and had kept cats and dogs for many years. She left her dog called Murdoch and another called Hakan. She also left her long time friend Rene.

Her main hobbies were, reading books, listening to her formidable collection of music CD's, collecting African Art and her pig collection which ranged from very tiny pigs to one very large pig that weighed some 200 pounds at the entrance to her house. Her cooking was magic and she used to make things with no effort. Never a day went by did she not surprise our taste buds.

Even after she retired she set about writing a mystery novel and had the first copy sent for evaluation. Sadly she never had the time to finsih it. In the latter years she travelled extensively both in the USA from New Orleans in the deep South to Niagara Falls and on into Canada. Several months she spent in England looking after her mother but also travelled to Fiskerton where her father was based in WW2 She loved Durham, Middleton Teesdale, and as far North as Scotland. Both the Isle of Skye and Holy Island she adored. What made her so special to me was her love of all animals. The first thing she would do is to buy carrots or apples not for us to eat but for the deer, cows or what ever animal she saw on her outings.

She is deeply missed by all her family and all that made her life what it was.

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