You are here

Obituary: Barbara Jean Ligget Starrett

Barbara Jean Ligget Starrett, formerly of Erie, Mass, a writer, teacher and Jungian analyst who also excelled at music and painting, died peacefully on Saturday, July 10 at her home in Chelsea, Mass. She was surrounded by her spouse of 39 years, Elizabeth "Jay" Joy Jordan, her daughter Elizabeth Devore, and her cherished friend Bill Kelly.

Barbara was born on August 20, 1930 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of James and Helen Parker Ligget. She attended a public exam school for exceptional children and while in high school had her paintings hung in the Cincinnati Art Museum, performed as a guest adolescent conductor of the Cincinnati Philharmonic and sang soprano with the Cincinnati Opera Company.

She earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy, a master's degree in English literature and a PhD in comparative symbolics. Barbara taught at Gannon College and Villa Maria College in Erie, eventually teaching some of the first women's literature and women's studies courses in the country. She also taught in The University Without Walls system at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island, at Goddard College Boston and for the Beacon Graduate School in Boston.

She wrote the curriculum for the Antioch College Peace Studies program. She was the driving force in the founding of the first women's bookstore in the U.S., the New Words Bookstore, in Cambridge, Mass. She was a founding member of the New Democratic Coalition and sat on the initial steering committee for the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization of Women. She was an active civil rights advocate and, at the time, the only white woman to serve as a chapter president for the NAACP.

A strong activist for peace and a well-known women's liberation advocate, she practiced as a feminist therapist, and later as a Jungian psychotherapist for 20 years on Martha's Vineyard Island. Barbara was a life-long member of the Episcopal Church. She was a progressive humanist who adhered strongly, as a political philosophy, to the tenants of the Beatitudes.

A lover of books, reading everything from the lightest mysteries to the most complex works,; she was rarely seen without a book. She became well known, nationally and internationally as a feminist lecturer, a published poet and as author of the prose/poetry work, ""I Dream in Female: The Metaphors of Evolution,"" a meditation on women's psychology and Jung.

Barbara is survived by her spouse, Elizabeth Joy Jordan; her son Gregory ""Kip"" Starrett of Nashville, Tenn.; her three daughters, Maryann Starrett of Arcadia, Fla., Elizabeth Devore of Hagerstown, Md., and Susanna Starrett-Tobon of Boston; and four grandchildren. She was predeceased in death by her son, Michael Starrett. The Reverend Gareth Evans officiated at the funeral service, which was held at St. John's Episcopal Church in Charlestown, Mass., on July 13. Expressions of sympathy and donations for remembrance may be sent to St. John's Episcopal Church, 27 Devens St., Charlestown, Mass