Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you meet someone in your life who is remarkable, and passionate, and who makes a difference in the world she walks in. If you are unbelievably lucky you get to call her your friend.
For all of us at Theatre Collingwood we were just that lucky. We knew Barbara Weider and she was our friend…..and she made a difference. Barbara was the founder of Theatre Collingwood, one of her many accomplishments. She was a champion for the arts, incredibly intelligent, and a wonderful woman. Sadly, Barbara Weider passed away September 20th. Our hearts go out to her family. She was a woman who sincerely made a difference during her life, and to the lives of many others.
We will miss you Barbara and we will never forget your beautiful smile, the twinkle in your eye, your infectious laugh, and the difference you made.
Obituary for Barbara Weider
Barbara Weider died at home surrounded by her family on September 20, 2015.
Barbara Jean Weider, nee Smith, was born in San Francisco in 1937. An only child, she was educated by nuns until high school in San Jose and then went on to college and then to graduate studies at University of California, Berkeley, where she met her husband George.
Together with George she travelled in Europe in 1964 and spent a year with him in the Soviet Union where he was studying Russian history. She accompanied George to Toronto and York University where George taught Russian and European history in the late 1960s. In 1971, following the death of George’s father Jozo, founder of Blue Mountain, the couple moved to Blue Mountain and took up residence in the family home at the foot of the ski area.
While raising her son and daughter, Barbara brought her enthusiasm, ability and charisma to a remarkable array of volunteer duties promoting the arts in the area. In 1974 she founded the Blue Mountain Arts Council, later absorbed into the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts, and she organized a major national literary event, The Great Canadian Poetry Festival.
Another great passion was Theatre Collingwood, which Barbara founded and helped manage. The organization recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, with a gala event honouring Barbara.
After raising her children, Barbara embarked on a long and successful career as manager of the Georgian Triangle Economic Development Corporation, providing counselling and financing to small business start-ups.
Full time work did not prevent Barbara from continuing to pursue many volunteer activities in arts and education. She was driven by the examples of her father and father-in-law. Her father Adam Smith was 17 when he lied about his age and enlisted in the US Marine Corps and was one of three survivors in his company in a terrible battle in World War I. This made Barbara feel fortunate to be born and keen to give back. She also admired George’s father Jozo and was determined to continue Jozo’s legacy in supporting Georgian College. She served on the Georgian College Board of Governors and was a tireless champion of the establishment of a Georgian learning centre in Collingwood. When the opportunity came she co-chaired with Peter Hodgson a major fund raising drive and was delighted when the campus was opened in 2013.
In 2004 and 2005 Barbara took much deserved time off to return to her academic interests and pursue graduate work in English literature at McGill University and University of Toronto. In 2005 she earned her second MA, this one from U of T. She then returned to her volunteer endeavours in the Collingwood area and continued to be a leader in arts, education and theatre, as well as a generous contributor to many charities and causes.
Barbara earned many honours during her lifetime, including the Order and Companion of the Order of Collingwood and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. Barbara was the first woman President of the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce and was a keen participant in a host of programs in pursuit of training, economic development and arts and culture in the area.
Barbara was a loving and wonderful mother to Katherine, born in 1969 and Michael, born in 1970. She is survived by her husband George; daughter and son Katherine and Michael; daughter-in-law Kate McCartney; son-in-law, John Roos; brothers-in-law, Gord Canning, Josef Marik and Don McGillivray; sister-in-law Helen McGillivray; grandchildren Hannah, Sophie, Cece and Jozo; nieces and nephews Andrea Canning, Alec, James and Gillian McGillivray; Tessa and Tony Marik.
Barbara was a soul mate and cheerleader for her husband George, initially President and later Chairman of Blue Mountain Resorts. Barbara had many friends and associates who admired her passionate dedication to community service, organizational ability, skills in leadership, keen intellect, flair for the dramatic and kindness for all who crossed her path. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
The family wishes to thank the health care providers who supported Barbara in her last few months. Especially helpful were Drs. Kate McLachlin, Sarah Rask, and Kenneth Logue, numerous nurses at St. Elizabeth, the Pharmacists at IDA and two kind and tender caregivers Sylvia Bradbury and Elaine Wigle-Kratz. Barbara was an honourary member of the Laureate Epsilon Pi Sorority; The sorority sisters provided great sympathy, as did the Reading Club and many associates and friends.
Barbara was interred in a private family ceremony in the All Saints cemetery, in close proximity to the new Georgian College learning centre that she did so much to bring about. There will be a memorial gathering at the Blue Mountain Inn – Weider Room on Saturday September 26th at 2 p.m. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Theatre Collingwood or Georgian College.