Born in Baltimore in 1940, Barbara was the first of two daughters of Walton and Jane Willing. She attended high school in Catonsville, Maryland, received her bachelor’s degree from Towson University and a master’s in education from the University of Delaware. She married Nelson Macken in June 1962. While in graduate school with Nelson, Barbara taught elementary school in Cecil County, Maryland, and then in Oak Park, Illinois. Both of their children, Michelle and Andrew, were born while Nelson was serving in the Air Force in Bedford Massachusetts. The family also lived in Pittsburgh PA and Schenectady NY before moving to Swarthmore in 1977.
In Swarthmore, Barbara continued her interest in early education, teaching preschool at Swarthmore Friends Nursery School and Newmann University. Nelson’s employment led to extensive time in various locations, including Germany, where Barbara learned the language and developed deep friendships.
Barbara was an active member of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, where she served on various committees. She taught Sunday school for a number of years and was a regular volunteer at the church’s Fall Fair, but her major interest lay in outreach and community service. Barbara was part of the church team that supported the successful resettlement of a Vietnamese refugee family. She later served on the church’s Outreach Committee. During the past six years Barbara became a faithful volunteer at Chester Eastside Inc., one of the church’s mission partners, which provides a food bank and out-of-school children’s programs. On Mondays and Wednesdays year-round you could find Barbara collecting surplus food for free lunches. In the summer it was lunch food for day campers. In November she assisted the church’s Hunger Group in gathering food for dozens of Thanksgiving meals, and in the Christmas Season she helped organize the church’s Giving Tree, which provides holiday gifts for around 100 children.
Among her friends and neighbors, Barbara’s culinary skills were well known, with an emphasis on healthy foods and sharing. She also was an enthusiastic and dedicated swimmer, spending considerable time each summer at the swim club and in the winter at the Swarthmore College pool. Major winter activity also included skiing in the northeast and, in later years, Keystone Colorado. Barbara’s love of the water extended to the family’s second home in Avalon NJ, where she enjoyed fishing, swimming in the back bay, and time on the beach.
Family was at the center of Barbara’s life. She and Nelson were partners in everything from travel and gardening, to concert going and crabbing in Avalon. Their three granddaughters graduated from Swarthmore College, and though they lived on-campus, Barbara was their go-to person for support and provided a “home” away from home. She highly cherished those relationships with her granddaughters.
Barbara is survived by her husband, Nelson, her two children, her sister, and six grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations marked for the Outreach Ministry of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church.
Relatives and friends are invited to her Memorial Service on Saturday December 11 at 2 PM at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church 727 Harvard Ave. Swarthmore.