Barbara Graham Watts died unexpectedly Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2002. She was an actress, an educator and a lifelong lover of the arts.
Barbara was born on June 27, 1920, in Taft, Calif., to Alberta Journeay and Frederick Graham. She grew up in Taft and attended Taft Junior College, where she first experienced the joy of acting. Barbara garnered the Best Actress award at the annual, statewide Pasadena Playhouse drama festival and earned a scholarship to attend the College of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.
In Stockton, she met her future husband, Meredith Watts, on Dec. 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Meredith was stationed at Stockton Air Base. After a whirlwind courtship, they married on April 4, 1942. While Meredith was stationed in England for three years, Barbara completed her bachelor's degree in elementary education and music in December, 1942, and then moved to San Francisco, where she worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Following the war, Barbara and Meredith reunited and made their home in Roundup, where Meredith practiced law. Barbara had three children: Saralyn, born in 1947, John in 1950, and Virginia in 1956. The family moved to Bozeman in 1957, and Barbara earned a secondary teaching credential for English, music and drama from Montana State College.
She taught English and drama at Bozeman Senior High School from 1960 to 1963. During her tenure at the high school, Barbara produced musicals and dramas and took teams to competitions in speech and drama. She won a Best Director award, and several of her students won Best Acting awards. Barbara was also very active in Bozeman's Loft Theatre and in Montana State College drama productions, playing such roles as Medea, Hedda Gabler, and Amanda Wingfield.
In 1963, the family moved to Fullerton, Calif., where Barbara taught English at Fullerton Union High School, for one year, and at Troy High School until her retirement in 1978. During her tenure at Troy, she took a sabbatical to pursue course work in classical studies at University of California, Irvine.
In 1980, Barbara and Meredith returned to Bozeman to enjoy retirement in their home in Grandview Heights. Barbara spent the remainder of her life savoring time with her family, including her grandchildren, Noah and Vanessa Watts, Maya Bronston, and Garrett and Corey Chase.
Barbara made it a point to contribute to the communities in which she lived. In Roundup, she was president of the Community Concert Association, an active member of the Dine and Dance Club and the Square Dance Club, and a past president of Chapter N, PEO. Barbara also entertained the community as a member of the American Legion Women's Trio and the Congregational Church Choir. In Bozeman, she was a charter member and past president of Chapter AU, PEO. She was also past president of Chapter SG, PEO, in California.
Upon her return to Bozeman, Barbara volunteered at the Bozeman Public Library, delivering books to homebound library patrons. She was an avid supporter of the Bozeman Symphony, the Intermountain Opera and the arts community in general. She served on the Montana State Chapter, PEO Continuing Education Committee and also co-chaired the PEO state convention in 1993.
Barbara filled her spared time with trips with Meredith. They explored Greece and England, cruised the Inland Passage, and traveled throughout the United States. This past year, she fulfilled two dreams by attending a performance by Placido Domingo at New York's Metropolitan Opera House and visiting the Getty Museum of Art in California.
Barbara was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Alberta Graham; and her sisters, Gertrude Kallok and Virginia Cardin (Robert). She is survived by her husband, Meredith Watts of Bozeman; her brothers, George Graham (Dorothy, deceased) of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Fred "Sandy" Graham (Lucy, deceased) of Billings; her children, Saralyn Watts Sebern (Douglas), John Graham Watts (Roberta Fog in the Morning) and Virginia "Ginny" Watts (Ron Chase); and grandchildren, Noah Watts of Los Angeles, Vanessa Watts, Bozeman, Maya Bronston, Livermore, Calif., and Garrett and Corey Chase, Bozeman.
Barbara will be buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Billings. A memorial will be held at the Dahl Funeral Chapel, 300 Highland Boulevard, Bozeman, at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8. The memorial will be followed by a reception at the Pilgrim Congregational Church, 2118 South Third Ave., in Bozeman.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Chapter AU, PEO for educational projects, c/o Mrs. Tim Johnson, 618 Wintergreen Lane, Bozeman, MT 59715.