Family and Arts Community Mourn Passing of Dot Barber

Published Friday, December 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 12, 2014. Dot and Mark Barber had what some called one of those fabled “Horn in the West” romances, a description which isn’t too far from the truth.

While they didn’t actually meet during “Horn in the West,” both are alumni of the outdoor drama, where Mark and Dot did a little bit of everything from acting, choreography, lighting, costumes, props and more over the years.

In 1981, Mark went to see a community-theatre production at the Powderhorn Theatre, which used to be located near the Horn in the West parking lot. That night, Dot acted in the play that Mark saw during the first half and did the lighting during the second half, where Mark said she was about 10 feet off the ground when their eyes locked in on each other.

Dot Barber

Dot Barber – This image is from the 1982 program of “Horn in the West. In her first year with the outdoor drama, she acted as Nancy Ward.

“I just remembered I stared up there and she stared down, and we caught each other’s eyes,” Mark said. “I don’t know. Something just clicked right then and there.”

Then in 1982, Dot joined the “Horn in the West” production for the first time, acting as “Nancy Ward,” who was a daughter of a Cherokee chief in the play. Mark, who was already a cast member, played “Dragging Canoe” that year.

The couple married in 1984 and were together ever since. At the age of 60, she passed away this past week

“She just had a very loving heart, and I’ll miss her so much,” Mark Barber said.

In addition to family and friends, the local theatre and arts community are mourning her death.

Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA), which produces “Horn in the West,” released a brief statement after her passing: “She will be profoundly missed by all of her friends, and remembered always for the kind, caring person she was. Thank you for your continued prayers for her family.”

For years up until recently Barber was also instrumental in arranging the production’s alumni picnic each July.

“She was always reaching out and pulling them in, and it was always a good time getting together every year,” SAHA board member Michelle Ligon said.

Denise Ringler, the director of the Appalachian State’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, also released a statement describing her important role in arts programming at the university and the kind of person she was.

“Dot has been a long-standing and highly valued member of the High Country arts community and has played an instrumental role in arts programming at Appalachian State University,” the statement read.

Ringler noted that for 16 years, Barber served as a key member and leader for Friends of An Appalachian Summer Festival, which is the volunteer corps that provides critical help and support for the festival and year-round programming at the university. She also served on the festival’s advisory board for three years.

“Dot’s warm and friendly spirit, generosity, good humor, passion for the arts, and devotion to volunteer service was admired by all who knew her. She will be long-remembered and greatly missed by all of us,” the statement read.

Residing in Linville, Dot was born June 6, 1954, a daughter of the late Arthur Goetz and Dorothy Olsen Goetz currently of Asheville. Her obituary noted that she enjoyed gardening and hiking.

Dot is survived by her husband, Mark Barber of the home; sons, Drew Barber of Boone, Sean Barber of Linville; and sisters, Diana Osborne of Garner, Arlene Pace of Marion, Anita Goetz of Asheville, Jennifer Albero of Delmar, Del., and Jean Nelson of Salisbury.

A celebration of Dot Barber’s life will be conducted on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. in the Grandfather Chapel of Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home. The family will receive friends from 1 to 2 p.m. prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Avery County Humane Society at 279 New Vale Road, Newland, NC 28657 (www.averyhumane.org), Watauga Humane Society at PO Box 1835, Boone, NC 28607 (www.wataugahumanesociety.org) or to the Southern Appalachian Historical Association at PO Box 295 Boone, NC 28607.

Words of comfort and memories may be shared with the family and viewed at www.rsfh.net. Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland is serving the Barber family.

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