age 45, of Paradise Valley, departed from this life on Thursday, November 7, 2013.
She was born to Dr. Bernard and Lois Watson, who survive her, on January 28, 1968 in Philadelphia, PA. Barbra received a BA degree in Political Science from Northwestern University in 1990 and a JD from the Washington University (St. Louis) School of Law in 1993. She also studied international law in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She lived in France on two occasions and was fluent in French and Spanish.
Barbra was an attorney who held positions at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and at New York University’s Department of African and African-American Studies. She was a law clerk at the US Court of Appeals for the Third and Eighth Circuits as well as a consultant for LexisNexis, a member of the Reid Elsevier Group of Companies. Barbra also ran her own event planning business, “The Fete Group”, before leaving the workforce to raise her daughter and dedicate herself to philanthropy.
Barbra was a passionate advocate for women’s health. She was a board member of the Central and Northern Arizona Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Phoenix Affiliate of Dress for Success, a founding member of the Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer (CBBC), and an American Heart Association Ambassador. One of Barbra’s proudest achievements was her composition of “Life In The Cancer Lane” – a compilation of stories of breast cancer survivors that she lived to see brought to life on stage only weeks before her passing. Barbra was a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Silver Star), The Links, Inc., Jack and Jill of America, and The Junior League.
Loved by many, Barbra is survived by her husband, Brendon Riley, her daughter, Blayre, and her brother, Bernard Watson, Jr. (DeLesia). Barbra is also survived by one aunt, Helen Imes (Wayne), two cousins, Wiley Kyles (Barbara) and Leigh Jones, her father and mother in law, Ronald and Adrienne Riley, one brother in law, Terence Riley (Hilma), one sister in law, Kristin Riley-Freeborn, six nieces and nephews and was an “auntie” to many more young people.
Barbra’s life was celebrated this weekend in a private ceremony.
In lieu of flowers, The family requests that donations be made either to The Links Foundation, which will be redirected to the Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer (tax deductible – make checks out to The Links Foundation, specifying “In support of CBBC” in the memo line and mail to the Phoenix Chapter of The Links, Inc., PO Box 67237, Phoenix, AZ 85082), or to Barbra’s family (non-tax deductible) via her blog, http://pinkwellchick.com/donations.
The East Cleveland City Council
The East Cleveland City Council would like to take the time to extend our condolences to your family concerning the recent loss of Barbara Watson Riley.
Her physical presence here on earth will be greatly missed by family, friends and loved ones. However, her memory will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of your family.
We encourage you to remember that God’s grace is sufficient to see you safely through these difficult times. He knows the depths of your loss and his strength and great love is freely given to each of you for comfort and support. His promise to all of his children is that he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Our prayers are with your family.
The East Cleveland City Council
Dr. Lela Weems
Barbra-you will be missed…you will forever be loved…and you will never be forgotten. I will always remember you as my Soror with a smile and personality as warm as the Earth’s sun and the heart and courage of 100 lions.
Brendon, Blayre and family-There are not many words…May God comfort you and give you strength throughout….our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Lela Weems and Shaka Rasheed
I met Barbra when she worked at LexisNexis along with Aurelia. Three Sorors doing our thing in corporate America! I kept up with Barbra through Aurelia over the years and felt such a strong connection with her through her illness. I offer my sincere condolences to the family. Truly her legacy will continue. She left such an indelible mark on all of us that encourages us all to pick up the mantle and carry it forward. Though I was not there to celebrate her life, I was there in spirit. Peace and blessings to Brendan and Blayre.
I am so, so sorry for the loss of Barbara. While I am not a friend or family member in the strict sense, I became aware of Barbara because I now work where she used to live. A package from one of Barbara’s friends arrived one day last fall and I followed the trail until I located Barbara and delivered it. Part of that process involved phone conversations with the friend, who described Barbara as an incredibly dynamic person. I recently lost my mother to Alzheimer’s Disease, so I can echo the words of the East Cleveland council: God’s grace is sufficient for this moment.
Christina (Macallister) Melton
I only learned today of both the struggle and passing of an amazing woman. I remember the first day, Bobbie in 7th grade, me in 6th, walked into Mr Kovic’s office to plead for a gymnastics team. Little did we know that, with our desire (persistance) and his expertise, one would be in our very near future. “Bobbie” made a difference then – for GFS and for me. She has continued to make a difference for thousands of others – by sharing her experience. I am not surprised – that’s who she was.
My warmest wishes and thoughts go out to Bobbie’s family. From, a high Scool friend.
Barbra and I attended Masterman School in Philadelphia together many years ago. She was one of the first girls I met and we quickly became friends. One of my fondest childhood memories was attending a slumber party at Barbra’s home in Chesnur Hill and going to see Close Encounters the next day! After about age 15, we loss contact, but I have often wondered about Barb and occasionally tried to find her online. So to see this obit today made my heart sad, realizing that such a beautiful and full life had been cut short. Deepest condolences to the family. May the “Father of tender mercies and God of all comfort” be with you. (2 Corinthians 1:3,4 NWT)