Barbara Van Pelt Staats was born October 5, 1922, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her father worked for the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA) and traveled the world helping the company establish new factories. He took his family with him, so Barbara and her two older sisters Jane and Peggy were international travelers at an early age, living for a time in Yokohama, Japan and then Shanghai, China. They returned to the States when Barbara was in 8th grade. She attended Haddon Heights High School in New Jersey, where she met her future husband, William Wolfe. Bill and Barbara were married in June of 1942, shortly before Bill went overseas to serve during WWII. Bill was on active duty in the Philippines when the war ended. On his return, the couple settled in New Jersey and started their family: daughters Barbara, Christy and Leslie, and sons Thomas and Jonathon. In the summer of ’69 the family moved from New Jersey to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. With her children grown, Barbara started to work outside the home, working retail in several small stores. She and Bill helped establish a local Society of Friends church, and Barbara was an active member of the League of Women Voters. In 1979, Bill, Barbara, and their youngest son Jonathon moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where her mother and sister Peggy lived. Their granddaughter Whitney was born to son Tom in Anchorage, Alaska in 1983. Barbara continued to work in retail, eventually working in a sewing store. Barbara and Bill helped reestablish the Society of Friends in the town of Sandwich. Bill passed away in 1988; Barbara continued to reside on Cape Cod until moving to Baltimore in the late 1990s. This move was in order to be closer to her children Christy and Jonathon, although she continued to live independently for the next 20 years. For much of that time she worked at Action in Maturity (AIM), a non-profit dedicated to enabling seniors to remain active in their communities. She started as a volunteer but was so valued that she was hired as a permanent employee, in part due to her largely self-taught computer skills. Barbara was happily living her independent life when in 2011 she had a stroke during a visit with her son Thomas and his wife Joni in Nesbit, Mississippi. As she recovered, they invited her to move in with them permanently. Living in Nesbit allowed her to spend time with her granddaughter and four great-grandchildren, all of whom live nearby. In 2021, Barbara moved to Pinnacle Assisted Living in Southaven, Mississippi, where she was residing at the time of her death, four days short of her 100th birthday.
Barbara was always an avid reader, especially American history and biography, with English murder mysteries running a close second. A talented seamstress, knitter and needle pointer, she made many of her daughters’ clothes when they were young, and throughout her life produced beautiful quilts, afghans, sweaters and scarves for family and friends. Each of her great-grandchildren has a beautiful afghan made especially for them.
Survived by her five children Barbara (Philadelphia, PA), Christy (husband Jim)(Baltimore, MD), Leslie (St. Paul, MN), Thomas (wife Joni)(Nesbit, MS), and Jonathon (Baltimore MD); grandchildren Whitney, Brandon, and Ben; great-grandchildren Marshall, Maxwell, Jackson, and Marley.
Preceded in death by her husband, William Wolfe, and her sisters Jane and Margaret.
Peggy Fawcett saysJanuary 22, 2023 at 8:15 pm
Dear “kids” of Barbara,
My thoughts and prayers continue with you all in remembrance of Barbara who was such a wonderful person and for a time felt like a mother to me as well! Our special relationship with her (and Bill) began in 1978 through the Sandwich Quaker Meeting. I will always “hold each of them in the light”. I am especially reminded when I stroll through our burial grounds where Bill’s stone is. In peace, Peggy Fawcett
Leslie Wolfe saysOctober 6, 2022 at 9:57 am
“…And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.”
from “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou