Barbara Forsyth, 83, Alden

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 13, 2010

Barbara Lois Forsyth died Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010, in her home in Alden, at the age of 83. She was born Sept. 8, 1926, to Garland and Betty (Pahl) Clark in Albert Lea, baptized by the Rev. Bowes at the Methodist Church in 1927, and confirmed her faith in June of 1940, at Grace Lutheran Church in Alden. She will be remembered at funeral services at Salem Lutheran Church, 115 N. Washington Ave., Albert Lea, on Tuesday at 11 a.m. and the family will welcome visitors at the church beginning at 10 a.m. A luncheon will follow the funeral service at the church as well. The Rev. Rolf Wangberg will officiate, and the Bruss-Heitner Funeral Home in Wells is handling arrangements. Interment will be in the Alden Cemetery at the side of her husband.
Barbara attended Ramsey School in Albert Lea, through the fourth grade. Along with her family, Barbara moved to Alden in 1935 to reside in the lakeside cottage homesteaded by her grandfather, August Pahl. She attended Alden High School, graduating in 1943. Following brief employment in the office of the Wilson Company in Albert Lea, Barbara enlisted in the Cadet Nurse Corps in 1944 at Ancker Hospital (now Regions Hospital) in St. Paul. This program was instituted during World War II to encourage more students, subsequently releasing greater numbers of RNs for service with the armed forces.
Upon completion of her courses at Ancker and the University of Minnesota, and passing the state-board exams to receive her license as an RN in 1947, Barbara married the Rev. Willis J. Forsyth from Syracuse, N.Y. on Nov. 16 in Alden. They made their first home in El Monte, Calif., where her husband had organized a new congregation. While there, she was engaged in special duty nursing, initially caring for some of the first patients to undergo open-heart surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.
In 1951, the Rev. Forsyth enlisted in the U.S. Navy to serve as chaplain. For the following 12 years, the family resided in various locales, from Charleston, S.C., to Long Island, N.Y., to Noank, Conn., to Naples, Italy, to the Naval Weapons Lab in Dahlgren, Va. Retiring from the Navy, the family then returned to California where they lived in La Puente, where Barbara returned to nursing as the director of nurses at a Baldwin Park hospital. The Rev. Forsyth was then called back into the pastoral ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Bragg, Calif., where he served until his retirement. Desiring a tranquil location, they returned to Barbara’s childhood home in Alden. She was widowed in 1992.
Focal in Barbara’s life were “words” and “music.” As a pre-school child she, together with her younger brother Jack, often entertained at church, school and lodge functions in Albert Lea with songs and monologues, having had early training in elocution by their mother. This facility stood them both in good stead in later years.
Assisting her husband in his parish ministry, Barbara prepared catechumens for confirmation, led Bible studies and women’s organizations, directed the choir, performed secretarial duties, and penned short stories, plays and programs. She was a prize-winning, published poet.
While residing in Connecticut, Chaplain Forsyth, in whose boyhood scouting played a major role, became the leader of a Cub Scout troop and Barbara enjoyed working with the young boys as den mother. It was the inception of the scouting experience for their son, David, which culminated in his designation as an Eagle Scout later in California.
Barbara directed a navy choir in Dahlgren, Va., and had the opportunity to study voice in Naples, Italy, under the tutelage of Melvin MacClean, a fellow of the Toronto Conservatory, whose students frequented the San Carlo Opera House downtown. There they enjoyed the great operas, observed some bel canto technique and met the artists backstage. Subsequently, Barbara was invited to become the soprano soloist for the large Armed Forces Choir, which performed Handel’s oratorio, “Messiah,” at the ancient Episcopal Cathedral in Naples, known to be the first Protestant church erected in that city years before. The choir was accompanied by pipe organ and stringed instruments from the Scarlatti Orchestra, Italy’s state orchestra, and directed by Maestro Gennaro D’Onofrio. The oratorio was repeated a few days later on the hangar deck of the aircraft carrier, Independence, anchored in the Bay of Naples, an unforgettable experience which Barbara loved to relate.
Following the Rev. Forsyth’s retirement, Barbara returned to work at Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Fort Bragg, this time as a medical transcriptionist, making further use of her love of words. She worked there until her retirement in 1991.
Into her 80s Barbara continued to move people with her music, while she employed it to give praise to the Living Word, her Lord. To Him, she gave daily thanks for His gift of a devoted family, her husband and four children.
Survivors include: Deborah and Gino Disgrazzi of Albuquerque, N.M., and their children Sam of Rohnert Park, Calif., and Rachel of San Jose, Calif.; Paula Forsyth Donovan currently living on the Big Island of Hawaii; Rebekah and James Sousa and their sons Caleb and Joshuah of Albert Lea, as well as daughter Abigail with husband Christopher and son Quinn Michael Parish of Bellefontaine, Ohio; daughter-in-love Peggy Forsyth of Hallowell, Maine; grandson Timothy Forsyth and his wife Robin of Vacaville, Calif.; granddaughter Emily Forsyth Conroy and her daughter Haley Conroy of San Francisco, Calif.
Barbara was preceded in death by her husband in 1992; her son, David in 2004; brother Jack Clark in 2005 and his wife Esther in 2004; her brother Richard in 2005; her parents, Garland and Betty Clark; her father-in-law and mother-in-law, Sherman and Hattie Forsyth; and grandparents August and Eliza Pahl and Ethan and Mollie Clark.
Sing to the Lord a new song!

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