Aug 18, 1950 ~ Jan 5, 2019
As we try to absorb the day-to-day flow of news, it can be challenging to remember that the world is full of good people doing good things. Barbara Gorson, who died January 5, was one of those good people whose life is well worth knowing about.
Barbara was a lifelong learner whose interests were diverse. A national merit scholar in high school, she went on to earn her BA, eventually finding her way to Los Angeles with her beloved husband, Billy Gorson. In LA she worked for six years as chief of staff and personal assistant to Bob Dylan. During that time, she enrolled at UCLA in the School of Management and earned an MBA. This accomplishment led her to Silicon Valley and a series of increasingly responsible positions at Intel, where she worked for 16 years, spending two of those years in Hong Kong before retiring and moving to Capitola.
For a time she worked in Monterey Bay radio, as Mrs. Sunshine, with her husband on the Billy Sunshine Show. “She went from being afraid of the microphone to finding her voice”, said Billy. “At first she didn’t want to talk on the air, choosing to just serve as producer, but eventually she found she had a lot to say, much to our audiences’ delight.”
Barbara’s passion for learning and trying new things was as varied as the many people with whom she formed deep friendships. She was a founding member of a women’s singing circle led by Ariel Thiermann, and sang a cappella with the group since 2002. She also studied the marimba for many years with Laura Mallon at the Singing Wood Marimba Centre. Music brought her great joy and deep connections to her fellow musicians. Barbara was a writer, a poet and a community leader. She was a true Renaissance woman – smart, interested, and adventurous. She was also incredibly kind-hearted and good-natured.
Barbara cared a great deal about providing free access to information in our community. After her retirement, she embarked on a new learning goal by enrolling in the Masters of Library and Information Science at San Jose State, earning her second masters degree. She loved libraries and gave generously of her time and knowledge to the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. She served on the SC Library Joint Powers Board for seven years, two of those years as board chair.
Her friend Gayle Ortiz said, “Barbara was one of those people who quietly goes about doing excellent work and adding value to whatever she is doing. A truly extraordinary individual who I was fortunate to know.”
In recent years, Barbara focused on the Capitola Branch Library near her home. With the passage of Measure S in 2016, it finally became possible to replace the ‘temporary’ building that had been the Capitola Library for 17 years. Unfortunately, Measure S funds were not sufficient to build a permanent, larger structure sufficient to serve the needs of library patrons who come from all over the county to use that branch. Knowing something needed to be done to ensure the success of the project, Barbara helped to found the Friends of the Capitola Branch Library.
She served on the Capitola Library Advisory Committee, assisting the City of Capitola in finding a way forward. She helped form the Capitola Branch Library Capital Campaign Committee to raise private donations to build the new library branch.
Mike Termini, a friend and neighbor shared, “In my many years of serving with Barbara I learned the importance of poise and patience when dealing with difficult situations. She was always first to see the core of issues and make the careful and considerate decision required.”
Until just weeks before her death, she worked as a key member of the committee. Her contributions were invaluable to the success of the campaign. She was a true team player, always organized, hard working and committed to the project. Barbara lived to see the groundbreaking for the library that she loved, the library that is her legacy and contribution to the community. In May, family and friends will gather to reflect on Barbara Gorson’s life of loving people and learning, and serving her community.
Her family asks that to honor the memory of this good person, you consider making a gift in Barbara’s name to the Capital Campaign. https://capitolalibraryfriends.org.