Sandra Elaine Barr (Barney), 86, passed away peacefully on October 19, 2021, to join her relatives and precious grandson, Andre LeBlanc. She is survived by Reginald E. Barr, her husband of 65 years, Debbie LeBlanc, her daughter, Drannan Hamby, her cousin, and many nieces and nephews.
Sandra was born August 23, 1935, to William and Elaine Barney in Phoenix, AZ. She was a Mayflower descendant and traced her Arizona lineage to pioneer and entrepreneur, James M. Barney, who managed the Silver King mine near Superior, AZ. She met Reg while attending Phoenix College. After they married, they moved to Tucson where they set down their professional and familial roots where she attended the University of Arizona. Ultimately, Sandra obtained two masters degrees, one in Counseling and one in Home Economics, taught for 22 years, and supported her family in countless ways. Although Sandra embraced her pioneer roots and Mayflower connections, she believed that every individual makes his or her own mark in this life. In fact, she believed that helping others reach their individual potential was the greatest service anyone can do. This philosophy is reflected in every aspect of her life.
As a spouse, Sandra encouraged her husband Reginald in untold ways, but one of the most endearing was when he was a bit stalled on finishing his doctoral dissertation. Her Christmas present to him that year was a single alligator shoe. As soon as he finished his dissertation, she said, he could have the other one! She shepherded many of Reg’s creative endeavors including a summer school program in Hawaii, called Hawaiian EdVenture, a name she proudly claimed as her idea. Ultimately, she and Reginald co-founded Amerischools, a system of charter schools organized around the philosophy of individual progress and achievement with schools in Yuma, Tucson, and Phoenix. For twenty-five years, as president of the board, Sandra helped make Amerischools a success. Sandra and Reg also helped many family members achieve the dream of a post-high school degree or training.
Sandra was a doting and loving mom. She continually helped Debbie broaden her horizons through higher education, travel, and cultural events and opportunities. Sandra was especially influential and talented in all aspects of what might be called domestic arts: cooking, sewing, gardening, and home decor and design. Debbie loved the many tailored outfits lovingly made by Sandra and the fun shopping trips to various designer stores for ideas! Debbie is forever thankful for Sandra’s exemplary meal planning and sense of clothing design and style. Sandra’s attention to home life served as a model for Debbie’s family life and created many fond family memories.
As a teacher, Sandra began her career as an art teacher at John Spring Junior High, which served a diverse community with an equally diverse faculty and staff. She helped young artistis take advantage of opportunities available through various Tucson fine arts organizations. She also introduced her young art students to professional artists in the community, thus helping them see themselves as artists should they choose to do so. Desiring a change, Sandra took sabbatical leave in 1971 to change her teaching major to Home Economics at Northern Arizona University and then landed her next teaching job at Cholla High School. Here again Sandra helped her students appreciate not only their own culture, but also foods from other cultures. She also helped her students better understand contemporary clothing styles through the lens of fashion history and design. Sandra relished the lifelong friends she made at both Spring Junior High and Cholla High School.
Sandra also promoted individual potential through her professional organizations. During her tenure as president of Alpha Delta Kappa, a women’s honorary for educators, Sandra established a textbook scholarship for high school students who could not afford to purchase their textbooks. This is before the Arizona legislature voted for universal coverage of these costs. Seeing first-hand how a simple scholarship like the one described above could change people’s lives, Sandra continued to support a wide variety of charitable organizations throughout her life. In addition, she was one of the first women to join the Tucson chapter of Phi Delta Kappa when it finally opened its membership to women in 1974.
In 2010 Sandra and her husband Reg returned to the Valley of the Sun to be closer to their daughter Debbie, son-in-law Gary and grandson, Andre. To Sandra and Reg’s delight, moving back to Phoenix allowed them to easily share in many milestones of family life: holidays, Sunday dinners, Soup Parties, high school graduation, college days and all that comes with being together as a family.
Sandra and Reg’s marriage was, above all, a beautiful testament to a loving, respectful, and strong partnership that was always supportive of each other. Sandra’s keen guidance and support will be sorely missed by all who depended on her.
The family would like to thank the gracious nurses and social workers at the Hospice of the Valley and the continued support of Hyde Park Home Healthcare services. If friends and family of Sandra are so inclined, the family supports donations made in her name to any organization that promotes the success and welfare of children. Services will be private. Condolences may be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com.
I met Sandra in 1941 when we both started first grade at Jackson school in Phoenix. We both went to West Phoenix High School for four years and graduated in 1953. I didn’t see Sandra again until 1993 when the “class of 53” had its first reunion. It was good to see Sandra as well as Adrianne Austin and JoAnne Mosby, who also started first grade at Jackson school with us and went to West High for four years. If any of the family still has West High year books you can look us up. Sandra was a friend and a class act.