Remembering Berkeley artist Barbara Werner

Barbara Werner. Photos: Courtesy family

On Sept. 30, 2019 Barbara Kay Werner (maiden name Kelly), loving wife and mother of four, passed away at the age of 72.

Barbara was born Oct. 15, 1946 in Roswell, New Mexico to Col. James Richard Kelly and Irene (Ingalls). She received her bachelor’s degree in Textiles from Texas Tech in 1969 and worked as an artist throughout her life, gaining recognition for her pottery, stationery, and house stamps in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On June 20, 1970, she married Milt Werner in Austin, Texas. They raised four children: Kelly, Mike, Gretchen and Matt, who all graduated from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!).

Barb first met Milt when they were 10 years old at Saint Peters School in Roswell, NM. Milt would walk her home, carrying her books from school in junior high and high school. They remained close throughout college and, right after they graduated, they got married and moved to California.

Barb and Milt lived in Alameda from the early 1970s-1995 while Milt was an educator. They lived in the South Bay from 1996-1998 and Oakland and Berkeley from 1998-2018. They moved to Belvedere to be near their grandchildren in 2018.

Barbara was a devout Catholic, involved in multiple parishes in the Bay Area. One of the highlights of her life was getting an audience with the Pope on a Rome and Holy Land trip she and Milt took in 2012. She gave so much love to everyone she met, and remembered nearly every birthday and anniversary and would send cards and handmade gifts.

She loved many things in life, including: family, friends, the Kennedy’s, the Beatles, Elvis, cocktail parties, sailing, visiting Paris, brightening people’s days with heartfelt homemade gifts, Harriet’s cookies, sewing baptismal gowns for Newman Hall in Berkeley, helping set up prom each year at UCSF Medical Center for terminally ill patients in high school who couldn’t leave the hospital, as well as caring for sick children at UCSF.

Over the past 40 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, Barbara was involved in the St. Francis Yacht Club, Catholic Charities, UC Berkeley’s International House, Claremont Park Book Club, Cal Parents, SF Symphony, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, St. Jude’s, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, among many other organizations, schools, and charities.

As a member of Berkeley’s Alvarado Road Artists Group, she had her pottery shown and sold at art galleries and stores in Northern California and Carmel. She’s known for large, beautifully hand-painted salad bowls and her French-inspired line of dishes, which she made by hand in her studio in Berkeley. Prior to pottery, she made bears, silkscreen art, stationery, gift tags, house stamps, and dresses. And for many years she was employed by UC Berkeley’s athletic department as a graphic artist making displays for their Hall of Fame and creating beautiful awards using her calligraphy penmanship.

Barbara had a dynamic personality that lit up every room she walked into. She made everyone feel welcome and important as she worked her way through a room greeting all. Often she was the last person to leave an event or activity because of her tremendous love of life and her friends.

Barbara is survived by her three brothers, Mike, Tom and Jim, as well as four grandchildren, Micaela and Austin (children of Mike and Diana), and Charlotte and Emmeline (children of Gretchen and Brian Drake).

Her memorial Rosary on Friday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. and Catholic funeral Mass at 12 noon on Saturday, Oct. 12 are at St. Hilary’s at 761 Hilary Dr., Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920. The mass will be followed by a reception at Tarantino Hall which is attached to St. Hilary’s Church.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in memory of Barbara Werner.