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We Mourn The Loss of Barbara Spangler

Encore Learning Board President Barbara Spangler passed away on March 22 after a brief hospitalization. Our community mourns her loss and her presence will be greatly missed.

Barbara joined Encore Learning in 2013 and soon became a familiar face to all in classes, events and clubs. She joined the Board in 2017, serving as Vice President, Chair/Co-chair of Academic Programs Committee and as Encore Learning President from July 1, 2022 until her passing.

You can find her obituary in the Washington Post here.

You may view our slideshow of some memories of Barb shared with Encore Learning below. A tribute by Past President Tom Adams may be found below the slideshow.

An Appreciation of Barbara Spangler’s Work at Encore Learning

Barbara Spangler’s public service and civic contributions are legendary. I want to focus on three tremendous gifts she made to Encore Learning. When I joined Encore Learning’s Board I replaced Barbara, who stepped down from her Vice President’s position at the request of President Art Gosling to fill a greater need: chairing our Academic Programs Committee. Art wanted to strengthen what is arguably our most important committee, which is responsible for identifying instructors and courses each semester. Without a consistently good product, the organization will quickly flounder.  Barb’s hard work revitalized that committee, just in time to handle the challenges of Covid in early 2020. We had to pivot to virtual learning and so did our instructors and their courses as well as our members. In this, Barb’s husband, Steve, and others played key roles in making all involved comfortable on Zoom. This effort had a reward; we were able for register 230 people for Global Hot Spots, eliminating an ongoing painful waitlist for many.

When Art decided to step down as President in 2020, it was clear to everyone on the Board that Barb would be the strongest replacement. But she demurred, wanting to continue her work of insuring that when she stepped down as Chair of Academic Programs, it would be in the best possible shape. Barbara’s selfless decision was typical of her.

In 2022, she was ready to become our first female President and was deservedly elected, as our first female leader. She helped advance a number of initiatives, including increasing membership and visibility in the community, and, recently strengthening our financial management in ways that will increase revenue. She presided over our 20th anniversary celebration with pride, grace and humor, doling out well-deserved accolades to our staff, volunteers and members. It was a very special day.

But in my view the most important thing she did for Encore Learning was earlier, when she took charge of the search for a replacement for our first and only Executive Director, Marjorie Varner. Art asked Barb to use her decades of personnel management skills on our behalf and she delivered, identifying a half dozen strong candidates, doing background checks on each and arranging for Art and me to join her interviewing all the candidates. The result was the hiring of Lora Pollari-Welbes, through a first-rate process that Barb expertly managed.

You probably met Barb. In the past six years Barb participated in more than 50 Special Events and 45 classes. She served as Class Aide at least a dozen times. She was a model member and impeccable leader.

All of us will miss Barb terribly. But we should be grateful for the time we had working together to keep Encore Learning advancing and staying strong and relevant for those seeking continuing education.

Tom Adams, Past President