David Samuel Barr
2017-09-10 03:57:15 UTC
Published in The Rivertowns Enterprise, 8 September 2017
A shorter version appeared in The New York Times, 2 & 3 September 2017
Rhoda Barr, a 59-year resident of Hastings-on-Hudson, died Sept. 1,
after a brief illness. She was the loving wife of Martin for 65 years,
beloved mother of David, Cynthia, and Brooke (Bruce Knight), doting
grandmother of Matthew Knight, and daughter of Murray and Lola Ratner.
Born in Manhattan on February 17, 1931, Rhoda graduated from Hunter
College High School and graduated at the top of her class in the first
full class of Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor
Relations. She also earned an MBA from NYU.
Rhoda was beloved throughout her community and far beyond for her
kindness, her generosity, and her enthusiastic optimism.
Rhoda was dedicated to helping people and institutions better serve
their communities. Her many works included a 25-year career in
non-profit board management with the Volunteer Consulting Group.
Organizations of all sizes and missions sought her out and valued her
advice. On one day, Rhoda might be found counseling the director of a
tiny non-profit training monkeys to aid the disabled; the next day she
might advise the board of a worldwide relief and development
organization. All of them told Rhoda their problems and valued her
wisdom and guidance.
Rhoda was the founding director of the Hastings Youth Employment
Service, a program she began in the 1970s and that still prospers.
Through YES, she helped hundreds of young people enter the workforce for
the first time. Hastings alumni still talk about their first jobs, not
only as party aides or office staff, but more unusual work, like
assembling clocks or typing screenplays for a well-known TV soap opera.
At the invitation of the county, Rhoda created similar YES’s throughout
Westchester, then served as Deputy Director of the Private Industry
Council, creating and managing meaningful job training programs
throughout the county.
Rhoda cared deeply about Hastings as a community. She served for 34
years on the Hastings Planning Board (since 1983), including over 20
years as its Chair. Her approach was practical, not ideological. She
looked for solutions that would meet the community’s needs, allowing
healthy growth while preserving Hastings’ unique feel as a small
village. Rhoda valued each person’s perspective and looked for ways to
help people reach agreement.
Rhoda also cared about Hastings’ civic life, helping found the Hastings
chapter of the League of Women Voters, and serving as one of its first
Presidents in the 1960s. When she retired, at age 82, she returned to
help revitalize the organization (now the League of Women Voters of the
Rivertowns), serving on its board.
Rhoda was a founding member of Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings. From the
beginning, she helped set a tone that made the temple welcoming to all,
and she helped make sure the temple would maintain that spirit as it
grew from a tiny congregation to a large, well-established institution.
Rhoda was ever curious about people and the world, and endlessly
generous with her time, her resources, and her affection. Above and
beyond her professional contributions, she generously shared her time,
wisdom, and understanding with so many people who viewed her as their
mentor and loved her as their friend.
A funeral service was held at Temple Beth Shalom on September 3.
Visiting was at her home in Hastings on September 3-5, and at her
daughter’s home in Queens on September 6-7. In lieu of flowers,
donations may be made in Rhoda’s name to the Hastings Public Library or
to Services for the Underserved (sus.org).