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The Rev. Dr. Barbara Roche, Horizons Magazine’s first editor, dies at 86

A devoted traveler, Roche journeyed to Antarctica at age 80

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

the Rev. Dr. Barbara Roche

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Dr. Barbara Anne Roche, Horizons Magazine’s first editor, died May 8 after a year-long decline from a head injury. She was 86.

According to her obituary, she was born on Aug. 28, 1934, in Long Beach, California, to Agnes Louise Elford Roche and Claire Peter Roche. Maternal grandparents were William Henry Elford and Metta Marie Schwartz Elford. Paternal grandparents were William Henry Roche and Mary Elizabeth (Lizzy) Smith Roche.

She spent her childhood in the copper mining town of Ruth, Nevada, and graduated from White Pine County High School in Ely, Nevada, in 1952. Four years later, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. Her Master of Divinity came from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1960 and her Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1984.

While at Princeton Seminary, she spent a year at United Theological College in Bangalore, India, thus beginning a life-long love of travel to exotic and interesting places, including a trip to Antarctica at age 80.

Her life work was in the Presbyterian Church. She was director of Religious Education at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington; an Area Representative for the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations for the United Presbyterian Church; director of Student Services and Dean of Students at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California; and editor of Presbyterian Women’s Concern Magazine in New York, New York. When the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) moved into its new headquarters in Louisville, Roche was chosen to be the editor of a new magazine called Horizons, which continues publication.

Under her leadership, a group of women went to South Africa to study apartheid; their findings were published in Horizons. Their efforts pleased Archbishop Desmond Tutu so much so that he wrote an article for the magazine.

In 1975, the Women’s Center at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley named Roche its Woman of the Decade.

Under several different guises — journalist, consultant, clergy — she toured the world, attending the World Council of Churches Assembly in Australia, the NGO Fourth World Conference on Women meeting in China, as well as various church conferences and ecumenical workshops. She retired in 1998.

She was preceded in death by her parents and is survived by her sister, Georgia Gleason (James); a niece, Katharine Gleason (Patrick) and a nephew, Patrick Gleason (Evelyn); two grandnephews, James Gurian and Irvin Garay, a grandniece, Anna Gurian; and many loyal friends. She is also survived by her much-loved cat, Cooper.

She has been cremated and her ashes will be spread at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday at the Pavilion at Camp Cedar Ridge, 4010 Old Routt Road in Louisville.

Memorial contributions can be made to Ghost Ranch, 280 Private Road, Abiquiu, NM, 87510; Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, Princeton, NJ, 08542; and Central Presbyterian Church, 318 W. Kentucky Street, Louisville, KY, 40203.


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