In Memory

Brenda Kaye Barbour

October 02, 1948

December 31, 2021

Brenda Kaye Barbour, 73, died at home in Tucson, Arizona, December 31, 2021.  She was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, on October 2, 1948, to Robert Thomas Barbour and Carrie Evon (Welch) Barbour, residents of Abbs Valley, Virginia.

The Barbour family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in the spring of 1951.  They moved again to Denver, Colorado, in the spring of 1956, beginning numerous annual adventures across the United States as the family journeyed back to Abbs Valley to spend time with grandparents and relatives during summer break.  Thus was born a love of travel and discovery; while acquiring a love for cooking and sewing crafts with her grandmother and cousins.  She attended Denver Public Schools, where her growing interest in music and performance were supplemented by private lessons in piano and voice through the University of Denver.  Her performance in the “HMS Pinafore” as a fifth grader at Sabin Elementary School began a lifelong career in performance.  Brenda was a 1966 graduate of Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School before attending the School of Music at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she was a member of the University Singers under the direction of Charles A. Byers.  After her 1970 graduation with degrees in Music Education and Music Performance, she was employed as an elementary school teacher in the Boulder Public Schools, assigned to Crestview and, then, Heatherwood Elementary Schools.  Partnering with Elizabeth Gilpatrick, many adaptations of opera and musicals graced the stage attached to the gymnasium complete with orchestrations performed by students on Orff instruments.

Brenda left the classroom in 1980 to become a stay-at-home Mom for her young sons. She remained active in community theater and choirs as well as providing private voice and piano lessons. Brenda found a musical home as a choir member and soloist under the direction of Dr. Carl Gerbrandt in the Greeley (Colorado) Chorale, and later Herr Peter Leister with the Ökumenische Kantorei der Abteikirche Otterberg, Germany. Multiple Church and Military Chapel affiliations offered opportunities to serve as children’s ministry director, service-accompanist, choir member, children’s choir director and bell-choir director. A highlight of her professional performance career was as soprano soloist in Charles Gounod’s “Mass for St. Cecilia” composed in 1855 and performed before a 1997 sold-out audience in the Otterberg Abbey Church, with musicians from the Pfalztheater, Südwestfunkorchester Kaiserslautern and Otterberg Abbey Choir.

Brenda’s tenure with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Germany began in 1993, returning to her love of teaching elementary music.  Her school choirs earned a reputation for excellence and were invited to perform at many official military ceremonies. The many staged productions she created, complete with sets and costumes, afforded an involvement for students and community members alike.

During her free time, Brenda created beautiful and functional pieces through quilting, embroidery, knitting, crochet, applique, crafting, and sewing clothing for herself, family and friends.  A favorite activity was planning menus and creating suitable settings, for most any occasion, to celebrate with family and friends important milestones in their lives.  Her interest in social issues, cultural studies and literature yielded a sizable library, supplemented by artifacts and wall hangings she found in her travels.  The work of Habitat for Humanity motivated her to travel to Malawi, near South Africa, to participate in home building.  As part of those travels, she brought books to share and read to children in the local school.  She also introduced their local music to include in classroom instruction and school programs.  Scouting was a family focus with her sons.  Through the Scouting, PTO and PTA, and the roles of room mother, team mom, and event chaperone, Brenda supported and participated in the activities of her three sons:  Joshua, Timothy and Ethan.

Brenda’s professional affiliations included:  Colorado Music Educators, Colorado Epilepsy Association,  La Leche League, Overseas Music Educators Association, Smithsonian Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Habitat for Humanity, National Audubon Society, and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Brenda is preceded in death by her parents, an infant brother, John Aaron Barbour; and an infant sister, Melissa Anne Barbour.  She is survived by her brother, Tom, and his wife, Kim, of Greeley, Colorado; her husband, Sonny Bertschinger, of Tucson, Arizona; a son, Joshua Peterson, and his wife, Angela, of Longmont, Colorado; a son, Tim Bertschinger, and his wife, Smruti Desai, of Alexandria, Virginia; and a son, Ethan Bertschinger, his wife, Jordan, and son, Luke, of Warrenton, Virginia.

A memorial service is planned for Tuesday, 11:00 am February 8, 2022 at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 3738 N Old Sabino Canyon Rd, Tucson AZ. The service will be streaming through the Church’s Facebook page and can be accessed at ( Streaming begins 15 minutes prior to the service. The service will be recorded and can be accessed through the Church YouTube channel.

In lieu of flowers a donation, in her name, to your favorite charity is suggested.

5 thoughts on “Brenda Kaye Barbour”

  1. Miss you Brenda. You taught Rebecca to play the piano and bells. Middle school she played the flute. This was because of you and your love of music.
    Brenda helped out in my kindergarten room when Ethan was in my class. The students loved it when she came in.
    A truly gifted, talented woman. You will be missed.
    Paula Perkins

  2. So thankful for the brief time I got to be with you through my volunteering with Agape. You opened your heart and shared with me freely when I would visit Hans, playing piano, singing, teaching me about French press coffee and just being a precious free spirit. Sending love and condolences to Sonny, your sons and all the family.

  3. I will miss you. Thank you for the time we had singing, and coloring together. Brenda was an awesome teacher, mentor, and friend.–Ramstein Germany

  4. Brenda, You were a good friend and a musical inspiration. Thank you for your talent, your heart, your trust and your warmth.

  5. Brenda was an extraordinary musician and my daughter loved the Singspirations group at RIS. I helped Brenda as an accompanist for some of her concerts and realized how effortlessly she could train the students to sing together, harmonize, and watch the conductor’s hands. I realized how lucky these kids were to have Brenda who taught them in a more classical style and introduced them to all styles of music while she incorporated various cultural styles. All of the RIS students were excited to listen to her concerts and somehow she always found a way to have all of the classrooms hear the music that their peers provided.

    Brenda was ready to walk in the woods no matter what the weather and when we discovered that we lived in the same village we generally found time to wander for a couple of hours each Saturday or Sunday. It was a pleasure to walk with Brenda, hear about the latest stack of books she had read, the vegetarian casserole or cookies that she had just baked and, of course, we had to compare notes on plants. I enjoyed those afternoons so much and know that I will never find such a perfect walking partner as Brenda. I miss you Brenda but have a feeling we will meet in Heaven….hopefully we can walk together again there.

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