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Barbara Doris Henderson

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Barbara’s life was one of service to others. She was a beloved wife, mother, friend, mentor, colleague and good neighbor. She positively impacted many lives and will forever be missed by all who knew her. 

Although Barbara was born in Newport News, Va. and spent much of her early childhood in Michigan, her family’s move to California during her teens allowed her to discover her true identity as a California girl. Following her graduation from the University of California at Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in history, she enlisted in the Peace Corps and worked in Iran. 

From earliest childhood Barbara felt called to the ministry — despite the fact that there were few women in the field at that time. Upon her return from Iran, she began studies at Chicago Theological Seminary, earning master’s degrees in art and theology. She later earned a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1993. She was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 1976. Her home church was First Congregational UCC in Albuquerque. During her 35- year ministerial career Barbara served in various volunteer and official capacities at White Rock United Presbyterian Church, White Rock United Methodist Church, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Los Alamos. 

She frequently served as a substitute minister at other regional churches. She was a gifted preacher. She was a mentor and inspiration to a number of young female clergy. She especially served as a minister and spiritual resource for those without a church or religion. She was a driving force behind the local Ministerial Fellowship group. She served on committees for the Southwest Conference of the UCC. 

As a Fellow of the American College of Chaplains, for over 30 years, Barbara brought a high level of professionalism to the office of chaplain at Los Alamos Medical Center. She was largely responsible for founding the Pastoral Care Unit at LAMC. She was particularly interested in the integration of faith with other healing arts. 

In conjunction with her chaplaincy and church-related work, she was a diplomate of the American Psychotherapy Association and practiced as a licensed professional mental health counselor — usually providing care for those who otherwise would not have received it.

Another facet of her life began in 1980 when Barbara was hired on at Los Alamos National Laboratory to provide for her family. Starting her lab career as a materials technician, Barbara quickly moved into administrative support work, becoming a secretary V and later an administrative assistant, and finished her career as a technical information specialist with the Nuclear Criticality Safety Group. In this latter capacity, she contributed substantially to several significant papers in the field. She was a member of the American Nuclear Society.

Barbara was widely published across a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from pastoral care to criticality safety. 

Barbara served on committees and boards of directors for a number of local and regional organizations including the Southwest Conference of the UCC, New Mexico Conference of Churches, N.M. Licensed Professional Counselors Association, Chamisa Elementary School Advisory Board, Los Alamos Family Council, Los Alamos Medical Center Ethics Committee, Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra and Los Alamos Retirement Center.

Another of Barbara’s passions was music. She was an accomplished cellist, playing for many years with the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra and small groups of local musicians and professionally with the Emerald City Opera for several seasons. After retirement she enrolled in the music program at Northern New Mexico College to complete the music degree, which she had intended to pursue when she first went to college. After receiving her music degree, she taught music appreciation and music history for several years at Northern.

On a personal level, Barbara’s foremost interest was in her family — especially her children and grandchildren. She was a voracious reader with eclectic tastes. She listened to a wide range of music, her favorite type being 50s rock ‘n’ roll. She loved chocolate and other fine foods. She enjoyed eating out and conversing with friends. She loved her cats.

Barbara is survived by her husband of 27 years Arthur Dana; her brothers Robert and Tom Henderson; her sisters-in-law Linda Robinson and Irene Henderson; her children and their spouses Kristina and Warren Higginbotham; Keri Rusthoi; Rachel Gonzalez;  Karin and Gordon Hutchinson; Sharon and Robert Andrade; Michael and Lorena Dana; and Marcus Dana and Julia Roselli; her grandchildren Cody Byrum; J.D. and Justine Gonzalez; Carson Rusthoi-Harvey; Elizabeth, Andrew, Alex, and Nathan Hutchinson; Malia and Christian Andrade; Italy and Bridgette Dana; Isabella Dana; and Ryan and Dylan Higginbotham; her nieces and nephews Erik,  Nicole and Casey Henderson; Catharine, Christine and Cynthia Robinson.

 A memorial service will be  at 10 a.m. July 11 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church,  2390 North Road, Los Alamos, N.M. 87544, 505-662-5151.  

Barbara Doris Henderson

We left Los Alamos 25 years ago for another job, but my many memories of Barbara remain strong. I first met Barbara in 1979, when she served as an associate pastor at White Rock Presbyterian Church. She was a gifted pastor - caring and talented. She also became a personal friend. I know I am one of many who admired Barbara and will miss her terribly.