Barbara “Bobbie” Gillaspie passed away on July 6th, a few days past her 87th birthday. Born Barbara Watson in Grand Forks, North Dakota to Lyle Watson and Mamie Christianson, she was raised in Southern California by her mother, aunt Cecelia Christianson Douglas and uncle Al Christianson.
She met her husband Gene Gillaspie at Rock Creek Ranch, where Gene spent summers as a guide, and she visited with friends. They started dating when they were 16 years old.
Shortly after Gene returned from service in the Korean War, Barbara and Gene were married in 1954 at Barbara’s home church, First Lutheran, in Van Nuys. Daughter Janet arrived in 1956, followed by Carol in 1958.
After a few years in Southern California, they relocated to Oregon, purchasing an OK Tire Franchise (later Big O Tires) in downtown St. Helens in 1960. They successfully managed the tire store for over 30 years, until it was destroyed by fire. Barbara managed the finances and business side of the enterprise.
Barbara was actively involved in raising her two daughters, serving as a scout leader, fundraiser and all-round supporter of their activities.
When her youngest daughter Carol left for college, Barbara enrolled in Portland State University, completing a bachelor’s degree in accounting and becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). She was a tax auditor for the Oregon Department of Revenue for 17 years. She retired in 2003.
She was very active in First Lutheran Church in St. Helens for over 50 years, singing in the choir, leading activities for Lutheran Church Women, and serving on the church council.
Proud of her Norwegian heritage, she was an active member of the Norse Lodge in Portland. She traveled to Norway to visit family and the family home several times.
Other favorite activities included weaving and entertaining. She delighted in hosting many parties at their Ocean Park house in Washington, where family and friends would regularly congregate for clam digging and celebrations.
In addition, Gene and Bobbie built a beautiful, custom river view home on the banks of the Columbia River in St. Helens. They had a “Boat Party” every December to watch the Christmas Boats parade the Columbia River from their living room.
Barbara was preceded in death by her husband Gene.
She is survived by her daughters, Janet Gillaspie and Carol Gillaspie Vogel; grandchildren, Ian and Jenny Barrick and their children Abbey and Matthew, and Andrew Barrick and his daughter Kelsey; William Barrick and Cassandra Gallagher; and Kate Swenson and Shawn Zusek; along with her nephew Tom Wilber and his wife Susan.
Barbara will be laid to rest at 3:30 p.m. on August 8, 2020 at Columbia Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
Donations in her memory are suggested to First Lutheran Church, 360 Wyeth Street, St. Helens, OR 97051.