Barbara Locke Richards Stevens, 83, passed away July 9, 2020, in Granbury, Texas. Just like she planned it. In a comfortable room with a bookcase full of books, trail mix on the table, cokes in the frig, and her favorite pictures on the wall. (Of course she did.)
She was born Barbara Locke in 1937 to two loving parents Carl & Mae Locke, in Littlefield, Texas. Barbara attended Crescent Drive Church of Christ, where her father was an elder until he passed in 1974. She grew up on a little farm in West Texas. She would often go to school wearing a dress made from cottonseed sacks. She grew up knowing how to pick cotton, hoe weeds, pluck a chicken, and cook cornbread. But she would rather stay inside and read.
Barbara was the oldest of three children (much to her delight). She didn’t like having Carlene as a little sister growing up, but who could blame her with Carlene hiding her books and eating her candy. Barbara would get her caregivers laughing with the stories about her and Carlene. She adored her little brother Lloyd growing up and later in life. She always wished Lloyd would come walking through the front door at Christmas unannounced just one more time to surprise her again, even after he had passed some 30 years ago. Barbara was blessed with another sister when her parents adopted, Nancy Dow, when they were children. After everyone was grown up, Barbara would organize family get-togethers around the holidays. (Of course she would.)
Barbara graduated from West Texas State College with a Bachelor’s degree (Teaching) and marriage to Bill Richards in 1959. They settled in Littlefield, Texas. Barbara was blessed with two children Andy Richards and Mark Richards. She soon realized that Andy would be her life long caregiver because he had a heart. She knew that Mark would keep her financially safe, but had no business making medical decisions. What was she to do with two small children in the 60s? She doubled down on what she loved best, books of course. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a Master’s degree in Library Science in 1966.
They moved to Levelland, Texas, to raise a family. Barbara was always organizing something. She was a cub scout leader and book club leader. (Of course she was.) She attended Cactus Drive Church of Christ and made many life long friends.
Barbara was the K-12 librarian for Sundown ISD for 27 years from 1975 to 2002. She did a little bit of everything from repairing books, straightening shelves, running AV equipment, organizing junior-senior banquets, and directing one-act play. (Of course she did.) She often spoke of the teachers she counted as her friends; Maxine Carter, Sharon Tapp, Gayla Hodge, Rebecca Strader, Kathy Boothe-Loter, Lydia Turner, and Kathy Wright-Chapman. She had a real love-hate relationship with the coaches, especially Burnell Stevens. I don’t think she ever got over them teasing her about the “Cheap Trick” concert tee (’81, All Shook Up Tour) she borrowed from Andy to wear for dress-up day. How was she supposed to know what the name meant? She often spoke of the students she met over the years. She tried her best to make a positive change in every student’s life or at least warp them a little; Larry C, Larry H, DeAnn, Shannon S, and Aaron S, just to name a few. When she found the occasional Playboy magazine hidden in the library, she would paste paper doll outfits on all the pictures and return it to the hiding place in hopes that someone would read the magazine articles. It was her library after all.
She often said she would “put a hex on you” on those who dared irritate her. Any student who dared turn in a book late, damage a book or lose a book risked their fate. If any of the coaches or school administration wondered the cause of male pattern baldness, excessive flatulence, or not really feeling like it. Well, now you know.
She taught library sciences at Texas Tech University during the summer semesters back in the 1980s. Barbara often described her classes as a survival course where she tried to teach young librarians what they needed to know just to survive. She mostly used these classes to indoctrinate the next generation of librarians “the right” way to run a library. (Of course she did.)
Barbara made friends easily as she was a genuinely warm and caring person. She was blessed with friends that cared deeply for her. Barbara didn’t have a mean bone in her body, but if she ever did kill someone like she always threatened to… her friends would clean up the blood first and then discuss what to do with the body. Barbara had really good friends.
Barbara always held the front door open to someone in need. She invited several students to come to live with her family due to trouble or upheavals in their lives. It’s a wonder they agreed to stay as she also insisted on cooking that awful chicken and rice casserole once a month.
Barbara was preceded in death by her father Carl 1974, her mother Mae 2006, her brother Lloyd 1991, and her sister Carlene 2010.
Survivors include her sister Nancy Dow Yandell and her two children Andy Richards and Mark Richards. She was blessed with Andy who was born a farmer, but never got the chance. She was exasperated by Mark who achieved everything she hoped he would. She is survived by two grandchildren, Seth Richards and Haden Richards, whom she adored. She was blessed to have Kathy Wright-Chapman as her best friend. Kathy was always there, through thick and thin, with every move, and who stayed with her every step of the way until she couldn’t remember anymore.
The family suggests memorials to the Houston Public Library Foundation, your local library, the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation, or the charity of your choice. A very special thanks to her caregivers at Waterview The Cove Assisted Living Center in Granbury who cared for and loved her too.
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