Barbara Jacobsen Neal died on July 14, 2022 of Alzheimer’s.  Barbara and her twin sister Dorothy were born on Oct. 9, 1929 in Decatur, Illinois. Parents Dr. Guy Jacobsen and Dorothy Mead Jacobsen and sister Nancy welcomed them into the world.

Barbara was preceded in death by her parents and twin sister Dorothy Jacobsen and older sister Nancy Jacobsen.

Those left to honor her memory include her husband James (Jim) L. Neal and her four children: Susan Neal Zwerling (boyfriend Jim Collins) of Alexandria, VA, Lisa Lester (Ken) of Junction, TX, Timothy J. Neal (Colleen) of League City, TX, and Kate Guynn (Tony) of Alvin, TX; five grandchildren: Gabriel Valdes (Amber Bennet), David Dix (Toby), Kasey Neal, McKenzie Neal, and Michael Guynn (Mackenzie) all of Texas; and several cousins and many friends.

A memorial service and celebration of Barbara’s life will be held on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Family, 419 Turnpike Rd.,  Mills River, NC 28759.

Barbara grew up in Washington D.C. and spent summers riding horses at a camp in the Pocono mountains and going to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. Barbara graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and from the University of Delaware with a degree in Agriculture in 1952.

After graduation, she worked at The National Institute of Health in Washington D.C. Barbara met the love of her life, James (Jim) L. Neal in college but their life together started when he received a transfer to D.C. in 1955. They were married on a cold and rainy Saturday, on Feb. 9, 1957, at the Washington National Cathedral, Bethlehem Chapel.

After living in Middletown, Conn. and Cincinnati, Ohio they moved to Texas in 1962 where Jim worked at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Barbara loved horses and taught her children to ride, garden, shared her passion for wildlife, and helped with Sunday School. She took them to choir practice, Girl Scouts, swim lessons, practices, and swim team meets, soccer practice and games, and horse shows.

She taught riding to other children and found time to fight for clean air and water. Some cars were catching fire from the polluted air as people drove by the oil refineries and chemical plants lining the Houston Ship Channel. Also, the fish and shrimp in Galveston Bay became loaded with toxins. Barbara and a group of citizens succeeded in getting new regulations implemented to control what was released into the air and water.

Later, as the oil tankers became larger and faster, they were eroding the banks of Galveston Bay and endangering homes along the waterfront. She joined the Galveston Bay Conservation and Preservation Association which wanted to slow down the ships whereas the Corps of Engineers solution was to build a wall around the perimeter of the bay, destroying the homeowners’ view of the bay! Barbara received the Association’s Claire Rose Award in January 1983 for successfully leading that effort!

Barbara went back to school to study photography and journalism.  She wrote poetry and received a second place award from RHO EPSILON NU, the English Honorary Society of San Jacinto College in 1975. Barbara became a part-time columnist for the local paper,  the Bayshore Sun. She enjoyed food and loved to go to new restaurants and to test out unique recipes at home.

She was involved with the League of Women Voters, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and volunteered with Armand Bayou Nature Center (Pasadena, TX) from its inception in 1974 until Barbara and Jim moved to North Carolina in 1995. Her involvement there led to their new avocation of birding. Barbara and Jim enjoyed birding trips over much of the world including all North America,  parts of South and Central America, Europe, and Africa.

Barbara continued her volunteering efforts in Hendersonville. She worked with ECO, the Environmental and Conservation Organization, which was the predecessor of Mountain True, Conserving Carolina, and the Episcopal Church of the Holy Family where she and Jim led an effort to obtain a Green Faith certification for the church!  

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Episcopal Church of the Holy Family, Conserving Carolina, The Alzheimer’s Association or The Carolina Memorial Sanctuary. See their websites for online donations or mailing addresses.