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