Barbara L. Arnn

July 20, 1947 – June 1, 2020


Barbara was known for her intelligence, her wit, her unsentimental but caring nature, her serious playfulness, infectious sense of humor and raucous laugh, her old soul. She was always modest in spite of her many talents, and dedicated herself to seeing clearly the world around her. She was a careful, deep listener.

Accompanied by family and a few close friends, she died in hospice from complications due to cancer. She was born in Klamath Falls, Oregon to John O. and Mary (Scott) Arnn. After going to high schools in Japan and other places in the U.S., she graduated from Carmel High in California. A National Merit Scholar, Barbara began her studies in Anthropology at Brandeis University. She met her first husband, Gary Stanton, at an archeological dig in Arizona.

Barbara’s was a storied sort of life. Her mother went to work on a ranch after college and married the cowboy-son of the ranch owner. When she was 9, they moved to Japan. Major Arnn thought it would be beneficial for her to go and live in an orphanage, so she spent two summers with the children at Hikari no Sono. ToHo Studios later released “The Walking Major” a film that portrayed her father’s many miles walking to benefit orphans. No surprise that studying Japanese at U. Cal Santa Barbara and then medieval Japanese war chronicles at Indiana U. would lead to a PhD. She was a brilliant teacher at the University of Oklahoma, at Wittenberg (Ohio), and at Fairfield (Connecticut). The patriarchy convinced her she’d be happier out of academics, so she became the editor of a trade magazine.

A dirt girl is how she viewed herself since from a young age she wanted to have her hands in the soil and study what she picked up or found: trinkets, seeds, shells, shards, stuffed animals, little boxes, fountain pens, and so on. She volunteered on a CSA farm, grew saffron here in PT, supported local farmers, tended the Colinwood farmers market booth, and helped with clean-up at the uptown Farmers Market. She particularly prized working at the Jefferson Land Trust, where she edited documents and managed the database, was the “database queen.” She really treasured all the good friends she made while at JLT.

Barbara dedicated her life to art and ethics, farming / gardening, and marriage. She wrote a novel, a memoir, and several little books about dogs, a fact that brought out her beautiful smile because she fancied cats.

After working so long with words, she returned to an early practice of sketching and drawing, because those activities were for her the best way to see clearly the real objects around her. She didn’t much care to display her work publically, but she did illustrate a few books of poetry, and recently, a chapbook, De Paso en Oaxaca, that came out of time she spent in that Mexican city.

A celebration of Barbara’s life is being planned. Donations may be made to the Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Advocates, JCIRA or the Housing Solutions Network, HSN, through the Jefferson Community Foundation.

Barbara is survived by her husband, W. Nick Hill, brother James E. Arnn, both of Port Townsend; by her step-children: Nicole Hill (Fox Lake, Illinois), and her children Mason, Gabriela, and Alexandra; Andrew Hill, his spouse, Ashley Powers Clark, and their daughter, Asa Hillpowers (Sacramento, California).


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