Barbara Green Friedline, formerly of Williamson, GA and recent resident of Madison passed away on November 6 at the new home she shared for the last two years with her late husband Jim. The couple had moved to Madison to be near their daughter and son-in-law, Karen and Greg Strelecki.
Barbara was born in 1928 to the late Eunice and Noble Green in Big Lake, TX. When she was very young her family moved to various oil towns in Texas and Mississippi where her father worked in the oil fields. She told a wrenching story of waking up one cold winter morning covered with snow that had filtered through a hole in the tent where they lived on one of the drilling sites.
On March 18, 1937 Barbara was fortunate to be among the first-through-fourth graders who had been let out of school early. She was safe at home at 3:17 pm when one of the buildings on the New London School campus erupted in a violent explosion caused by an electric sander spark igniting an undetected natural gas leak. The blast was heard as far away as the oil field where dozens of Roughnecks, including Noble, rushed to the scene and dug frantically to save any survivors and recover the children and teachers killed by the terrible accident.
The tragic event haunted the family for years. Barbara painfully recounted her father’s digging with hands and shovel in an exhausting effort to pull children from the wreckage. Noble went home just long enough to make sure Barbara was there with her mother. There he became physically sick in reaction to the carnage he’d seen but ran back to the site to continue the rescue efforts. His rushing into danger instead of away from it was a trait shared by Barbara and one she was fortunate to find in her future husband and which was passed on to their children and found in their son-in-law.
Always mindful of her being spared an early death, Barbara went on to be an outstanding student, playing clarinet in the band and being chosen as Drum Major. She also played the piano, sewed her own stylish dresses and even made her own shoes when the family couldn’t afford store-bought. Thankful for what they did have, she said she never felt poor because her family always had something to eat even if it was only pinto beans and cornbread. But most importantly of all, they had love. Her sisters followed in her footsteps as intelligent beauties and majorettes, accomplished career women, excellent mothers and super grandmothers!
After graduating at the top of her high school class, Barbara moved to Carbondale, IL and landed her much loved job of Executive Secretary to the head of the Department of Transportation located near the small local airport where she met the love of her life! James Russell Friedline was handsome, thoughtful, talented and unlike anyone she had ever met before. He was a private pilot and partner in his father’s construction company, CW Friedline and Sons.
This was the beginning of a love affair and marriage that lasted 72 years and produced two loving children, Karen and Mark of whom Barb and Jim were extremely proud. A fiercely loyal and loving daughter and sibling, Barbara (Baba to her sibs) expressed those same traits as a devoted, selfless and supportive wife, mother and mother-in-law. She cared passionately for her family and tirelessly encouraged them to pursue their own dreams. She was the first teacher, friend, defender and champion of her young children. She always found time to serve as room-mother and volunteered in the Nurse’s Office at Lakeshore High School where both kids graduated and went on to college and successful careers. She had willingly taken on the full-time job of raising their two children while Jim worked hard at his dream job as a pilot for Delta Air Lines. As secretary of the Delta Pilots’ Wives Bowling league she enjoyed a high-scoring athletic pastime that kept her slim and trim.
Since 1975 Barb and Jim (as they were known to friends) lived a quiet but interesting country life at their private airstrip in Williamson where the rhythmic rumble of round engine biplanes mingled with the lively honks of migrating Canada geese smoothly touching down on the pond. Barbara worked just as hard as Jim renovating the 1960’s ranch house on the property where they had a large vegetable garden and hangar. They loved listening to the tree frogs at night and even bottle-fed a calf that had been rejected by its novice mother. Life on the farm was beautiful and busy and they loved the peace and quiet of the country as well as the army of friends who were regular fly-in visitors.
Barbara is preceded in death by her beloved husband Jim Friedline; parents Eunice and Noble Green; friends and brothers-in-law Ted Bullard and Charles D Friedline; in-laws Mildred and Charles W Friedline; all her maternal aunts and uncles as well as her son whom she adored, Mark Brian Friedline. Though she is no longer on this earth her presence is felt every day and “Mommy has left her mark on everyone she loved and who loved her.”
She is survived by her devoted daughter Karen Friedline Strelecki and husband Greg “The Big Man” Strelecki; her beautiful and accomplished sisters Ginger Bullard and Sandy Taylor; her caring brother-in-law Steve Taylor; her dearest nieces Becca Kaczmarek and family, Abbie Paulding and family and her big hearted nephew Rusty Bullard and family. She leaves behind her cherished grandson, US Army Chief Warrant Officer-Four Arthur Hugh Dye II, his beautiful wife Megan and Barbara’s four great-grand daughters Alicia Faith, Lettie Shea, Amelia James and Cass Kearney-J Dye, sweet, smart and all “her pretty little girls!”
Karen and Greg would like to recognize and thank the team of caregivers who lovingly watched over “Ms. Barbara” till the end: Elaine Williams, Shanequia Williams, Dollie Williams, Phyllis Williams, Elise Moore, Katrina Smith and Tina Williams. They are truly angels on earth.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Native American Rights Fund online at www.narf.org.
After the COVID-19 crisis is over, a memorial for Barb and Jim will be held at Peach State Airport in Williamson, GA. Details will be posted when the date is determined.